The Failure of Market-Oriented Education Reforms in the US

Reform measures, such as teacher evaluations based on students' test scores, closures of low-performing schools, and school choice by increased access to charter schools, are the major market-oriented changes in K-12 education in the United States. Examining the learning outcomes of students in schools in Chicago, New York City and the District of Columbia, cities that have implemented these reforms, shows no significant positive impact from these market-oriented measures. This is the conclusion of a recent study by Elaine Weiss and Don Long. The study, "Market-oriented education reforms’ rhetoric trumps reality", has the following key findings:

The reforms deliver few benefits and in some cases harm the students they purport to help, while drawing attention and resources away from policies with real promise to address poverty-related barriers to school success:

  • Test scores increased less, and achievement gaps grew more, in “reform” cities than in other urban districts. 
  • Reported successes for targeted students evaporated upon closer examination. 
  • Test-based accountability prompted churn that thinned the ranks of experienced teachers, but not necessarily bad teachers. 
  • School closures did not send students to better schools or save school districts money. 
  • Charter schools further disrupted the districts while providing mixed benefits, particularly for the highest-needs students. 
  • Emphasis on the widely touted market-oriented reforms drew attention and resources from initiatives with greater promise. 
  • The reforms missed a critical factor driving achievement gaps: the influence of poverty on academic performance. Real, sustained change requires strategies that are more realistic, patient, and multipronged. 
The following are infographics, each addressing one aspect of market-oriented education reforms:

Downloaded from

Downloaded from

The first two paragraphs of the study's conclusion are as follows:

Jason Stanford, after referring to this study, wrote on the Huffington Post, "Time to Stop Waiting for Superman. Stanford concludes:
"There was no DC miracle. Browbeating students and teachers into raising scores on state tests only makes them better at taking state tests, and reforming our schools in hopes of replicating an illusion is a petty crime against humanity. Even George W. Bush was forced to admit there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and we've long since gotten over the shock that Barry Bonds and Mark McGuire were juiced more than a Florida orange grove. We believe lies at our own peril. It's time to stop waiting for Superman and focus on the hard work of teaching our children the way we know works."


  1. this is good, evidenced based manner of checking what works. clearly, the specific testing methodology done in these places didnt work.


Post a Comment