Ronan Lyons | Personal Website
Ronan Lyons | Personal Website

October 2009

Teacher performance, class size? Does it even matter?

I came across this excellent review and discussion, by Andrew Leigh of (a great site) of a very interesting paper on education performance (by Brian Byrne of the University of New England), during the summer. Essentially, it uses that treasure trove of the social scientist – identical twins – to attempt to measure the effect of teacher performance on educational outcomes. The entire post and its various links and comments are all worth a read, because the more you read about the subject, the more fascinating it gets.

For example, the paper could easily have been publicised as a measure of the effect of class size but – tell this one to teachers and indeed parents out there – the literature is generally agreed that class size, for most age groups, has no distinguishable impact, hence the authors chose to focus on teacher quality, which after all is much harder to measure, instead.

There’s also a good discussion of what percentages count as not important. For example, even if the bulk of performance is determined by the child, not the teacher or the classroom, an 8% boost to performance is still better than none.

The importance - or not - of class size
The importance - or not - of class size

The ‘everything comes back to Bord Snip Nua’ digression: if indeed class size is not the be-all-and-end-all when it comes to our children’s future, perhaps it could take a slightly lower priority on the pecking order of What Must Not Be Touched in our public expenditure.

Tax increases or spending cuts: is Ireland’s government too big?

With the Budget looming, a range of opinions are being aired about the relative importance of tax increases versus spending cuts. This post attempts to put Ireland’s public expenditure in perspective, by comparing the size of our Government, relative to the economy, with that of our European neighbours. It finds that Ireland’s government will, in all likelihood, be the largest in Europe in 2009. Read more

Is Ireland in a jobs recession or a jobs depression?

This post asks whether Ireland is in a recession or a depression, using the metric of jobs lost. It compares losses in Ireland with those in the US now and in the US during the Great Depression, and finds that – with almost one sixth of its private sector gone – Ireland is in indeed a jobs depression. Come the new year, it will be time for our jobs crisis to take centre stage as its cost to society is easily as large as NAMA or the public finances. Read more

House price down 4.7% in the third quarter of 2009

This post goes through some of the findings from the latest Report, out this morning, which reviews trends up to the end of September. Optimists can point to falling stock for sale and quicker sale times in Dublin. Clear regional differences are now emerging in the house price adjustments, while sellers many counties also seem to engaging in a six month wait-and-see strategy. Read more