Chester E. Finn Jr.

Senior Fellow
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Biography: 

Chester E. Finn Jr. has devoted his career to improving education in the United States. As a senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, chairman of Hoover's Task Force on K–12 Education, and president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, his primary focus is reforming primary and secondary schooling.

Finn has led Fordham since 1997, after many earlier roles in education, academe, and government, including professor of education and public policy at Vanderbilt University, US assistant secretary of education, and legislative director for Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

A native of Ohio, he holds an undergraduate degree in US history, a master's degree in social studies teaching, and a doctorate in education policy, all from Harvard University.

Finn has served on numerous boards, currently including the National Council on Teacher Quality and the Core Knowledge Foundation. From 1988 to 1996, he served on the National Assessment Governing Board, including two years as its chair.

Author of more than four hundred articles and twenty books, Finn's latest (coauthored with Jessica Hockett) is Exam Schools: Inside America’s Most Selective Public High Schools. Earlier works include Ohio's Education Reform Challenges: Lessons from the Frontlines (coauthored with Terry Ryan and Michael Lafferty); Troublemaker: A Personal History of School Reform since Sputnik; Reroute the Preschool Juggernaut; Leaving No Child Behind: Options for Kids in Failing Schools (coedited with Frederick M. Hess); Charter Schools in Action: Renewing Public Education (coauthored with Bruno V. Manno and Gregg Vanourek); and The Educated Child: A Parent's Guide from Pre-School through Eighth Grade (coauthored with William J. Bennett and John Cribb).

He and his wife, Renu Virmani, a physician, have two grown children and three adorable granddaughters. They live in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

His research papers are available at the Hoover Institution Archives.

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Blogs

RIP, Marva Collins

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via EducationNext
Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Marva Collins was a true pioneer: gutsy, tough, and ahead of her time. May we salute her memory, and may she rest in peace.

education
Blogs

Charter Schools At (Almost) A Quarter-Century: Looking Back, Looking Ahead

by Chester E. Finn Jr., Bruno V. Mannovia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Minnesota passed the nation’s first charter school law in 1991, nearly twenty-five years ago. And it’s been fifteen years since we published Charter Schools in Action, which described this educational innovation as a promising path to stronger student achievement and an engine “to recreate the democratic underpinnings of public education and rejoin schools to a vigorous civil society.”

Blogs

Readiness Matters!: The 2014-2015 Kindergarten Readiness Assessment Report

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Thursday, June 4, 2015

Maryland’s demanding new Kindergarten Readiness Assessment was administered statewide for the first time this year. Its results are revealing and sobering, to put it mildly.

Education and testing
Blogs

Closing The Expectations Gap 2014

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Achieve has spent a decade relentlessly tracking and reporting on states’ progress in adopting “college- and career-ready” (CCR) policies and practices across multiple fronts. Sometimes we’ve found their reports too rosy, or at least too credulous, with a tendency to credit state assertions that they’re doing something rather than looking under the surface to see whether it’s really happening.

education
Blogs

Will States Tell Parents And Students The Truth About College Readiness?

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Education Next
Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Amid way too much talk about testing and the Common Core, not enough attention is being paid to what parents will actually learn about their children’s achievement when results are finally released from the recent round of state assessments (most of which assert that they’re “aligned” with the Common Core).

Blogs

The State Of Preschool 2014

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Monday, May 11, 2015

Cohabitation continues between the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER). And they don't appear to be practicing birth control, because every year brings one or two new joint products. NIEER's hot-off-the-presses report—the tenth in its series of annual "state of preschool" data-and-advocacy scorecards—was again paid for via a multi-year sole-source contract from the National Center for Education Statistics, and was released at an event featuring none other than Arne Duncan.

Blogs

Presidents, Congress, And The Public Schools: The Politics Of Education Reform

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Thomas B. Fordham Foundation
Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Jack Jennings was the most influential education policy staffer on the Democratic side of Congress for the past half century. He served on the House Education Committee team for some twenty-seven years, then founded and led a well-regarded quasi-think tank called the Center on Education Policy, which continues to issue useful studies.

Education Image
Blogs

Defining "College Readiness" Down

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Thomas B. Fordham Foundation
Friday, April 24, 2015

A vast amount of contemporary education policy attention and education reform energy has been lavished on the task of defining and gauging “college readiness” and then taking steps to align K–12 outcomes more closely with it. The ultimate goal is for many more young people to complete high school having been properly prepared for “college-level” work.

Blogs

Bravo

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Education Next
Monday, April 13, 2015

The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015, unveiled a few days back by Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray and scheduled for HELP Committee mark-up on April 14, is a remarkable piece of work.

Blogs

College Preparedness Over The Years, According To NAEP

by Michael J. Petrilli, Chester E. Finn Jr.via Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Wednesday, April 8, 2015

For almost a decade, the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees the National Assessment of Educational Progress, studied whether and how NAEP could “plausibly estimate” the percentage of U.S. students who “possess the knowledge, skills, and abilities in reading and mathematics that would make them academically prepared for college.”

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