CEPR has a track record of identifying and accelerating breakthroughs.
- Although researchers have known for decades that students flourish in some teachers' classrooms (and not in others'), the performance feedback teachers receive is largely perfunctory and meaningless. To fill the gap, Tom Kane, CEPR's faculty director, designed and directed the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Measures of Effective Teaching Project. The $60 million project has been testing new ways to provide performance feedback to teachers by tracking student achievement gains, administering student surveys, and using digital video of classroom instruction. Bill Gates referred to the effort as "the most powerful idea in education today." The project has been featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, NBC, CNBC, Education Week, and local media outlets around the country.
- Although charter schools first opened in Boston two decades ago, there was no consensus on whether or not the charter experiment was working. But that changed in January 2009. Working with the state education agency and local philanthropy, CEPR issued a groundbreaking report on the impact of Boston-area charter schools. By using past school lotteries and tracking the subsequent performance of lottery winners and losers, the report addressed skeptics' concerns that charters were simply "cream-skimming." The research team-made up of faculty from Harvard and MIT—found that the charters were raising low-income students' performance to levels comparable to that in wealthier suburbs, especially in math. The findings shaped the state's decision to raise the charter school cap and allowed the most effective school operators to expand in Boston.
- In 2005, Chancellor Joel Klein was hiring one quarter of new teachers through the selective NYC Teaching Fellows program, but there was a problem: he had no idea whether the effort was paying off. CEPR researchers evaluated the effectiveness of NYC Teaching Fellows and Teach For America corps members in New York City. The findings-that neither group was substantially more effective than traditionally certified teachers on average, but that there were large differences in effectiveness within all groups-prompted Chancellor Klein to change direction. Rather than focus solely on recruitment, he began assessing performance on the job for all teachers, regardless of their route into teaching (an effort which has led to a statewide overhaul in New York).