January 10, 2020

Welcome back to Friday@Five in the new year. Two years ago this week I took over writing Friday@Five, and it’s been a highlight of my week every week since then. Thank you for reading this newsletter, passing it along to your friends and family, and sharing your thoughts with me.


Over the coming months, you may notice some changes. To start, EdNC.org has a new website! If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out and let us know what you think.

We are also revamping our newsletters, so you may start to see changes in terms of format and design as we think about how to best serve you, our readers.

One change you may notice today is there is no Weekly Insight in this week’s email. We are moving away from a weekly article and experimenting with a bimonthly or monthly article to allow us to go deeper in each piece.

We can’t make these changes without your input. Look out for a reader survey coming soon to get your feedback on what you hope to see, and always feel free to respond directly to this email or email me at [email protected] with your thoughts. And now, back to regularly scheduled programming…

Dropping Knowledge

If we’ve learned anything in the past decade about how to improve education, it’s that air quality impacts learning. Last June, I wrote about two studies showing that air pollution around schools leads to lower test scores. Now, we have more evidence of this.

A new working paper out of the Annenberg Institute at Brown University finds that installing air filters in classrooms leads to a 0.20 statistically significant standard deviation increase in mathematics test scores at a relatively low cost of $1,000 per class per year.

The researcher notes:

“Indeed, the cost-to-benefit ratio indicates air filter installation is the one of the most cost-efficient (in terms of dollar per test score) educational interventions available to policymakers, outperforming the cost-effectiveness of notable interventions such as high dosage tutoring (Cook et al., 2015), Perry Preschool (Schweinhart et al., 2005), cash transfers from the EITC (Dahl and Lochner, 2012), and Head Start (Ludwig and Phillips, 2007).”

For Your Consideration

Newly released Census Bureau population estimates indicate the 2010s saw the slowest population growth since the census was started in 1790. A new Brookings Institute report projects national population growth from 2010-2020 at 7.1%.

North Carolina, on the other hand, is one of a handful of states in the West and South experiencing higher than average population growth, projected at 10.8% from 2010-2020.

If these projections are accurate, North Carolina could gain a Congressional seat.

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  • Tax Incentives Fail to Spur Broad Economic Growth, Study Finds

    Route Fifty | 01/09/2020

  • Are We Calculating Maternal Mortality Correctly?

    Slate | 01/07/2020

  • A ‘wildly intrusive’ way to help older college students get their degrees

    The Hechinger Report | 01/06/2020

  • Injecting the flu vaccine into a tumor gets the immune system to attack it

    Ars Technica | 12/30/2019

  • Special Report: 10 Big Ideas in Education 2020

    Education Week | 01/08/2020

  • 2019: The Warmest Year in N.C. History

    NC State University News | 01/09/2020

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