Curry Education Research Lectureship Series Fall 2015

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Fall 2015

Too Many Children Left Behind

Jane Waldfogel, Compton Foundation Centennial Professor, Columbia University School of Social Work
Friday September 18th 2015, 11:00-12:30 PM 

Jane Waldfogel is the Compton Foundation Centennial Professor at Columbia University School of Social Work and a visiting professor at the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion at the London School of Economics. She received her Ph.D. in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Waldfogel has written extensively on the impact of public policies on child and family well-being.  Her current areas of research include work-family policies, improving the measurement of poverty, fragile families and child well-being, and inequality in child outcomes across countries. Waldfogel’s most recent book is Too Many Children Left Behind: The U.S. Achievement Gap in Comparative Perspective (Russell Sage Foundation Press, 2015). Previous books include Equal Access to Child Care (Policy Press, 2014), Britain’s War on Poverty (Russell Sage, 2010), What Children Need (Harvard University Press, 2006), Securing the Future: Investing in Children from Birth to Adulthood (Russell Sage, 2000), and The Future of Child Protection (Harvard, 1998).  She is also the author of over 150 articles and book chapters.  

Abstract: In this talk, I will present and discuss findings from a new book - Too Many Children Left Behind: The US Achievement Gap in Comparative Perspective by Bruce Bradbury, Miles Corak, Jane Waldfogel, and Elizabeth Washbrook (Russell Sage Foundation, 2015). Drawing on detailed cohort data from the US, UK, Canada, and Australia, the talk will focus on three sets of questions: 1) How large is the achievement gap between children from low- and high-socioeconomic status (SES) families? 2) When does this gap emerge? How much inequality is already present at school entry, and what happens to the gap as children move through school? 3) What can we learn from other countries to make success more common regardless of family background? More broadly put, does it have to be this way? The talk will conclude with a discussion of policies that could reduce inequality in child development, by providing more support for early learning, raising family incomes for the poor and near-poor, and improving the quality of teaching and learning in schools.

Taken by Storm: The Effects of the New Orleans School Reforms on Student Outcomes and School Practices

Douglas N. Harris, Professor of Economics and Schleider Foundation Chair in Public Education, Tulane University
Friday October 16th 2015, 11:00-12:30 PM 

Douglas Harris is professor of economics, the Schleider Foundation Chair in Public Education, and founder and Director of the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans (ERA-New Orleans) at Tulane University. His research helps inform and influence national debates over a range of education policies. 'Value-Added Measures in Education,' his first book, was nominated for the national Grawemeyer prize in education and published by Harvard Education Press in 2011. He has received more than $12 million in research funding and published in top academic journals in multiple fields and disciplines, including economics, sociology, education, and public policy. He is also actively involved in policy debates, contributing to the Obama Administration's transition team on the measurement of school performance, advising the Administration on college performance measures, and testifying in the U.S. Senate about the TRIO college access programs. Most recently, his Brookings report on community colleges helped shape the President's recent reform plans. Today, his research focuses on the effects of New Orleans school reforms and their implications for national schooling policy. Doug is also widely cited in the national media, including CNN, MSNBC, NPR, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, National Journal, Slate, The Atlantic, Politico and others. 

Abstract: The school reforms put in place in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina represent the most intensive test-based and market-based school accountability system ever created in the United States. Collective bargaining was ended, yielding flexible human capital management. Traditional attendance zones were eliminated, expanding choice for families. And almost all public schools were taken over by the state, which turned over management to outside non-profit charter management organizations working under performance contracts. These structural changes led to the hiring of less experienced and uncertified teachers from alternative preparation programs. Ten years later, this study provides the first examination of the effects of this package of reforms on student achievement. Identification is based on multiple difference-in-difference (DD) strategies, using outcomes before and after the hurricane and reforms in New Orleans and a matched comparison group that experienced hurricane damage but not the school reforms. The estimation procedures address potential threats to identification, including changes in the population, distortions in test scores from high-stakes accountability, the influence of the interim schools attended by evacuated students, and the trauma and disruption from the hurricane itself. With the possible exception of test-based accountability distortions, these factors seem to have a small influence and, collectively, they appear to cancel each other out. The results suggest that, over time, as the reforms yielded a new system of schools, they had large positive cumulative effects of 0.2-0.4 standard deviations.

Peter Youngs

The Role of Social Context In Beginning Teacher Development

Peter Youngs, Associate Professor at Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Friday November 6th 2015, 11:00-12:30 PM 

Peter Youngs is an associate professor in the Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education in the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. His research focuses on how educational policy and school context affect teaching and learning in the core academic subjects. In particular, he studies state and district policy related to teacher preparation, induction, evaluation, and professional development in the United States and their influence on teachers' instructional practices, commitment to teaching, and retention in the teaching profession.

Prior to coming to UVA, Youngs taught at the elementary school level and he also taught at Michigan State University for nine years. His publications have appeared in Educational Researcher, Elementary School Journal, and Teachers College Record; and his research has been funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the National Science Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, and the William T. Grant Foundation (for a total of $5,000,000 in grant funding). He received the AERA Division K (Teaching and Teacher Education) Early Career Award in 2012 and he currently serves as co-editor of Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis.

Abstract: Experimental studies, particularly randomized control trials, are often considered the “gold standard” in educational research. In research on teacher development, though, some RCTs that explored promising induction or professional development approaches have produced negligible results. And in the area of pre-service teacher preparation, there are many challenges to even conducting experimental studies at all. In this presentation, Peter Youngs will describe a set of his own completed and ongoing studies of beginning teachers’ commitment, retention, and instructional practices that a) focus on social context and b) represent alternative ways of designing research on novice teachers.

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