“Peer illusion is a term we use to describe the fact that people tend to confuse the level of student performance with school quality. The fact that the level of achievement is high does not tell you much about whether a child is better off at this school or some other school. A great example of peer illusion is described in our study of Boston and New York exam schools (such as the Boston Latin School and New York’s Stuyvesant). The kids at these schools are awesome. But not because of the schools; these kids would have been awesome anywhere. Our results show those who attend an exam school are doing no better as a result.
Positive developments and some surprisingly good news are coming out of the last decade or so’s education research. The quality of this research is higher than it’s ever been, and some of the results, such as those for teacher value-added models and No Excuses charters, are encouraging. You forgot to ask me if I’m optimistic about American education. I am.”