"Race to the Top" Competition's Pseudo-Scientific Use of Metrics Masks Arbitrary Decisions

Richard RothsteinRichard RothsteinIn a new EPI Briefing Paper released this week, Richard Rothstein and Harvard's William Peterson analyzed the complex scoring mechanism that led to Delaware and Tennessee  winning $1.3 Billion in extra school funding from the federal government. They conclude that the overly complex formula masks arbitrary judgements that are not research based and could easily have led to different outcomes. Furthermore, they argue that in a time of fiscal crisis in every state, basing this kind of significant level of funding supplement on an arbitrary competition with so few winners is not a good way to conduct federal policy. Their argument raises larger questions about the use of pseudo-science to mask professional judgment that has implications for much that is done these days in the name of accountability.