Curry Education Research Lectureship Series Fall 2017

For the current Curry Education Research Lectureship Series, please visit our website.


Fall 2017

LGBTQ Youth Health & Resilience 

Stephen T. Russell, Priscilla Pond Flawn Regents Professor in Child Development, Department of Human Development and Family Sciences, University of Texas at Austin
Friday September 22nd 2017, 11:00-12:30 PM  
This talk is available online

Bio: Stephen Russell is Priscilla Pond Flawn Regents Professor in Child Development chair of the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin. He studies adolescent development, with an emphasis on adolescent sexuality, LGBT youth, and parent-adolescent relationships. Much of his research is guided by a commitment to create social change to support healthy adolescent development. He is chair of the Board of Directors of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), was an elected board member (2005-2008) and fellow of the National Council on Family Relations and full member of the International Academy of Sexuality Research, and was President of the Society for Research on Adolescence (2012-2014).

Abstract: LGBTQ issues and rights have emerged as a major public and political focus over the last decades. Most attention – both in public discourse and in scholarship – has been on the urgent vulnerabilities that characterize the lives of many LGBTQ youth and adults. Yet, in the context of important disparities that demand our attention, most LGBTQ youth grow up to be happy, contributing members of their communities. In this presentation I present a collection of new studies that identifies and documents the role of structural, interpersonal, and personal resources that create and support resilience in the lives of LGBTQ young people. I consider the implications of these findings for efforts to create social change for social justice.


Personalizing Youth Psychotherapy

John Weisz, Ph.D., ABPP, Professor, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts & Sciences, Harvard University
Friday October 13th 2017, 11:00-12:30 PM 

Bio: John Weisz is Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University. He is also a Professor in Harvard Medical School. He leads the Harvard Lab for Youth Mental Health, developing and testing psychotherapy programs for mental health problems of children and adolescents. He also conducts meta-analyses describing and working to improve the science of youth mental health care. He has more than 300 publications, including ten books about child and adolescent mental health, and his work has generated more than 30,000 citations. He has received multiple scientific awards, including the Klaus-Grawe Award for the Advancement of Innovative Research in Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, from the Klaus-Grawe Foundation, and the James McKeen Cattell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Psychological Science—APS’s highest honor—for work that “has had a profound impact on the field of psychological science over the past quarter century.”

Abstract: Five decades of research have produced scores of empirically tested treatments for youth mental health problems and disorders. These evidence-based treatments (EBTs), most focused on single disorders or problem domains (e.g., depressive disorders), have shown respectable effects in randomized controlled efficacy trials in which treatment conditions are optimized for research. However, the EBTs do not fare as well when compared to usual clinical care with clinically referred youths treated in everyday practice. One reason may be that referred youths are often more complex than the treatments designed to help them. Most young people referred for treatment have multiple problems and disorders, and their treatment needs may shift over time. This challenge may be addressed by flexible, personalizable, transdiagnostic intervention approaches. One example, the Child STEPs Model, uses a modular treatment protocol derived from the psychotherapy evidence base and guided by decision flowcharts. Navigation through treatment is informed by a web-based system that monitors each youth’s treatment response week-by-week. Multisite randomized trials of this system, applied to youths with anxiety, depression, and conduct problems, have shown STEPs outperforming both usual clinical care and standard EBTs, on measures of youth clinical symptoms and diagnosis. STEPs and related approaches may provide a bridge linking the rich evidence base of clinical science to the complexity of referred youths in everyday clinical care.


Reducing Inequality Through Dynamic Complementarity: Evidence from Head Start and Public School Spending

Rucker Johnson, Associate Professor & NBER, University of California, Berkeley, Goldman School of Public Policy
Friday November 17th 2017, 11:00-12:30 PM  
This talk is available online

Bio: Rucker C. Johnson is an Associate Professor in the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a Faculty Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. Johnson received the prestigious Andrew Carnegie Fellowship prize for his scholarship. As a labor and health economist, his work considers the role of poverty and inequality in affecting life chances. He has focused on such topics as the long-run impacts of school quality on educational attainment and socioeconomic success, including the effects of desegregation, school finance reform, and Head Start.  He has investigated the determinants of intergenerational mobility; the societal consequences of incarceration; effects of maternal employment patterns on child well-being; and the socioeconomic determinants of health disparities over the life course, including the roles of childhood neighborhood conditions and residential segregation.

Abstract: We explore whether early childhood human-capital investments are complementary to those made later in life. Using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, we compare the adult outcomes of cohorts who were differentially exposed to policy-induced changes in pre-school (Head Start) spending and school-finance-reform-induced changes in public K12 school spending during childhood, depending on place and year of birth. Difference-in-difference instrumental variables and sibling-difference estimates indicate that, for poor children, increases in Head Start spending and increases in public K12 spending each individually increased educational attainment and earnings, and reduced the likelihood of both poverty and incarceration in adulthood. The benefits of Head Start spending were larger when followed by access to better-funded public K12 schools, and the increases in K12 spending were more efficacious for poor children who were exposed to higher levels of Head Start spending during their preschool years. The findings suggest that early investments in the skills of disadvantaged children that are followed by sustained educational investments over time can effectively break the cycle of poverty. (JEL I20, J20).

Paper is available online


Do More Stringent Accountability Policies Improve Student Achievement? New Evidence on How States and Students Responded to Accountability Pressures under NCLB

Vivian Wong, Assistant Professor, University of Virginia
Friday December 1st 2017, 11:00-12:30 PM  
This talk is available online

Bio: Vivian C. Wong is a research methodologist in the field of Education. Currently, Dr. Wong is an Assistant Professor in Research, Statistics, and Evaluation in the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. Her research focuses on evaluating interventions in early childhood and K-12 systems. As a methodologist, her expertise is in improving the design, implementation and analysis of experimental, regression-discontinuity, interrupted time series, and matching designs in field settings. Dr. Wong is the lead author or co-author of numerous articles and book chapters on research methodology. Dr. Wong’s work has appeared in the Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, and Psychological Methods. Dr. Wong participated in the Institute for Education Sciences (IES) Predoctoral Training Program at Northwestern University, and received the Outstanding IES Predoctoral Fellow Award in 2010 for her dissertation work on “Addressing Theoretical and Practical Challenges in the Regression-Discontinuity Design.”  She is a Principal Member of IES’s Statistics and Methodology review panel, and is a lead instructor for the IES workshop on Quasi-Experimental Designs.

Abstract: Over the last decade, accountability reform has been at the forefront of the domestic policy agenda. Although the Obama and Trump Administrations were critical of some elements of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), its policies endorsed high-stakes testing and expanded the scope of the stakes. In 2015, the House and Senate passed bills to replace NCLB. In both versions of the bill, the centerpiece of NCLB remained intact – identifying failing schools through standardized tests of students. What remains in contention, however, are policy levers that states have to identify and address failing schools. As states move to implement their revised accountability plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), we present new evidence on how states, schools, and students responded to accountability pressures under NCLB. We address prior methodological challenges for evaluating NCLB by introducing a new implementation measure of states’ accountability policies from 2003 to 2011 (pre-waiver period). The implementation measure reflects variation in states accountability plans, but is independent of population characteristics of schools and students within states. This allows us to assess the causal effects of accountability implementation on school and student outcomes. Overall, we find that despite responsiveness from states and schools in complying with the NCLB mandate, we see little evidence that these efforts translated to student achievement gains.

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