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* A Comment on Enhancing the Validity of Reviews on Adequacy Studies: Rebell Omits Valuable Information

Posted By: Deborah Verstegen on May 25, 2007
 
To the Editor:

I read with interest the recent article by Michael Rebell in Teacher's College Record entitled "Professional Rigor, Public Engagement and Judicial Review: A Proposal for Enhancing the Validity of Education Adequacy Studies". I feel that the article misrepresented our study in Massachusetts and therefore wish to set the record straight on the methods and procedures we used. Clearly, while the field is evolving, I believe that our professional judgment study is one of the best in the field but it fell victim to a court that found “flaws” and rejected all of the adequacy studies presented at trial--including those prepared by Augenblick and Myers, and Guthrie and Smith under the aegis of MAP, Inc.

Mr. Rebell stated that the “fatal flaw” in our Massachusetts was that it used teachers and educators from the four primary plaintiff districts for panel members. He concluded: "The court was right to reject the deliberations that emerged from a panel drawn solely from the school districts that are the prime plaintiffs in the lawsuit." This analysis is incorrect and potentially damaging to our work and any further legal deliberations on behalf of poor children and youth in the State, so I feel obliged to respond.

While systematic information and research on the resource needs of low wealth districts which were plaintiffs in the case was requested by study sponsors, the methodology we utilized included several steps to enhance validity and ensure a balanced research study. These methods included using: (1) eleven separate and distinct panels with three different levels of review, (2) three separate sets of panels for urban districts who were important in deliberations, with their results averaged, (3) a final, general, statewide panel, broadly drawn from rich and poor, suburban, urban and rural districts across the state representing a mix of districts including non-plaintiff districts, who made final decisions, and (4) an alternative, evidence based approach to cross-reference study findings. Thus, unlike Mr. Rebell’s conclusion, the 11 panels were not "solely drawn from ... plaintiffs in the lawsuit," and an alternative method, the evidence based approach, augmented study findings.

I hope your readers will have an opportunity to note our concerns and the errors and omissions in Mr. Rebell's analysis of our Massachusetts study.

Sincerely,
Deborah A. Verstegen
Verstegen and Associates
Professor, University of Nevada
Edwin J. O'Leary Chair in Financial Management
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
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 A Comment on Enhancing the Validity of Reviews on Adequacy Studies: Rebell Omits Valuable Information by Deborah Verstegen on May 25, 2007  * 
     
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