Curry Education Research Lectureship Series Fall 2018

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


Fall 2018

Dual Development of Parents and Children: Two-Generation Human Capital Programs for Low-Income Families

Terri Sabol, Assistant Professor, Human Development and Social Policy at Northwestern University
Friday September 21st 2018

Bio: Terri Sabol is an Assistant Professor in Human Development and Social Policy in the School of Education and Social Policy and Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University. As a developmental psychologist, she leads the Development, Early Education and Policy (DEEP) Lab at Northwestern which applies developmental theory to pressing social policy issues that affect low-income children and families. Sabol’s research focuses on two key policy areas: (1) assessing and improving early childhood education; and (2) increasing families’ human capital, including parent education, employment, and income. She received her PhD in Applied Developmental Science from the Curry School of Education and Human Development at the University of Virginia and is a former IES predoctoral fellow. Prior to entering graduate school, she was a first grade teacher through Teach of America.

Sabol has published in a range of journals from multiple disciplines, including Science, Child Development, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Developmental Psychology, and Journal for Research on Education Effectiveness. Her work has been supported by the National Institutes for Health, Institute for Education Sciences (IES), Administration of Children and Families, as well as the McCormick Foundation and the Foundation for Child Development. She is currently an AERA-SRCD Early Career Fellow in Early Childhood Education and Development.

Abstract: Head Start, the nation’s largest and oldest early education program, was launched in 1965 through the War on Poverty as way to improve the life chances of vulnerable children. Since its inception, Head Start has always had a two-pronged mission: offering high quality early childhood education services for children and providing direct services for parents as a means of improving outcomes for both generations together. Despite Head Start’s focus on parent and community engagement, few evaluations have explicitly tested approaches to parent engagement and even fewer have focused on one important parent pathway to improved child development: parent human capital development. Supporting parents’ own human capital development could be a way to maintain or boost Head Start impacts on children given the strong linkages between parents’ own education and income and children’s educational success. This presentation will present findings from two sets of papers. The first paper takes advantage of data from a of a large-scale experimental study on Head Start, the Head Start Impact Study, and examines the effect of Head Start’s business-as-usual approach on parent education. The second set of papers explores the extent to which a more intensive two-generation human capital program, which pairs education and training program in the healthcare sector for parents with Head Start for children, is associated with improved parent and child human capital outcomes.

Behavioral Economics: Toward an Interdisciplinary Framework for Understanding Parent Behavior and Optimizing Early Childhood Interventions 

Lisa Gennetian, Research Professor, Institute for Human Development and Social Change, New York University
Friday September 28th 2018
This talk is available online
Co-sponsored by the Batten School Research Speaker Series

Bio: Lisa Gennetian is a Research Professor, Institute for Human Development and Social Change, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, New York University. Dr. Gennetian’s research portfolio spans poverty and policy research, income security and stability, early care and education, and children’s development, with a lens toward causal mechanisms. Her work with Dr. Eldar Shafir “The Persistence of Poverty in the Context of Economic Instability: A Behavioral Perspective,” describes a behavioral framework for poverty programs and policy. In 2015 she launched the beELL initiative; applying insights from behavioral economics to support parent engagement in, and enhance the impacts of, early childhood interventions. She is co-PI on a randomized control study of a monthly unconditional cash transfer to low income mothers of infants, co-PI at the National Center for Research on Hispanic Families and Children; and, has served as an Associate Editor of Child Development since 2012.

Abstract: Family engagement is a hallmark of early childhood interventions and essential to meeting the objective of reducing socio-economic disparities, yet sparking and sustaining engagement throughout the course of interventions has historically been challenging. The reach of families in widely implemented parenting and ECE interventions at scale is particularly not well understood, with existing theory-driven strategies rarely providing a parent decision making perspective. In this talk I will describe various bundles of parent-targeted design enhancements implemented in existing parenting and ECE interventions, through real-world platforms for 0 to 4 year olds, that are conceptually grounded by the interdisciplinary field of behavioral economics (BE). BE offers new insights about how to scaffold parent decision-making in the midst of daily juggling of finances and time, beyond the economic, related logistical, and psycho-social factors commonly addressed. The tested BE enhancements convert insights related to attention, inertia, misestimation, fear of judgment and self-concept, and related biases on parenting, and about children’s early learning and development, into low-cost scalable design solutions at key family engagement decision-making junctures. 

In one application, we integrated an early learning initiative with an existing newborn home visiting program for low-income mothers in New York City, experimentally testing whether altering the default choices to enroll in a text-based early learning program increased mother’s participation in the program. We found that when automatically enrolled, 4.5 percent of mothers subsequently chose to opt-out, that is, 95.5 received the text-based program. In contrast, only 1 percent of mothers voluntarily enrolled in response to conventional forms of social marketing and information.

In a second application, with a school readiness program called Getting Ready for School (GRS) in New York City Head Start centers, we tested and found that the enhanced strategies of personalized invitations, child-friendly activity planners, text-message reminders, and commitment reinforcement increased parent attendance and follow through for a variety of GRS activities as well as the time parents reported they spent with children on educational activities outside of the classroom.

In a third application, we adapted and tested two formats of affirmation, hypothesized to harness positive self-concept in other domains originally developed from the field of psychology, on interest in parenting resources among parents of children aged thirteen or younger recruited via an online platform. We found that a pride-based affirmation increased parent positive self-concept and interest in parenting programs, particularly among parents with high self-reported stigma associated with seeking help from parenting programs. Similar effects were not observed for a value-based affirmation. Real-world applications of these affirmations were implemented in a scaled parent support program through early childhood settings in New York City called ParentCorps.


Critical Youth Work Right Now!

Torie Weiston-Serdan, Youth Mentoring Action Network
Wednesday October 17th 2018
Co-sponsored by Youth-Nex, the Virginia Mentoring Partnership, OAAA/GradSTAR Program, UVA Office of Graduate & Postdoctoral Affairs Diversity Programs, and the UVA Office for Diversity & Equity

Bio: Torie Weiston-Serdan is a scholar and practitioner with over eleven years of teaching and youth programming experience. She received her Ph.D. in Education from Claremont Graduate University at the age of 30 and has dedicated her life and career to teaching and mentoring young people in her community. She does extensive work with community-based organizations in support of their youth advocacy efforts, specializing in training mentors to work with diverse youth populations; i.e. Black, Latinx, LGBTQQ, First Generation College Students and Low-Income Youth.

Torie founded the Youth Mentoring Action Network, a non-profit organization that focuses on mentoring. The organization has served over 600 youth, helping them get to universities like the University of California at Berkeley, American University, Howard University, Clark Atlanta University, and California State East Bay. An expert in youth mentoring, she specializes in training mentors to work with diverse youth populations, i.e. Black, Latino, LGBTQQ, First Generation College Students and Low-Income youth.

As a scholar, she examines how marginalized and minoritized youth are served by mentoring and youth development programs. Passionate about young people and armed with a firm understanding of educational institutions, Dr. Weiston-Serdan is a strong education and community leader who is using her voice to advocate for youth voice. She has given several talks on education and mentoring, including a TedTalk and has published think pieces on mentoring, education and teaching. Torie Currently serves on the LGBTQ National Advisory Council and as a researcher for the California Mentoring Partnership Research Committee.

Abstract: Marginalized youth deserve equitable access to meaningful youth development experiences. But many of us are unsure of how to effectively meet their needs. We can be slow to recognize that the shifting landscape of youth work requires bold and sweeping action. We need to think about youth work in innovative ways that include critical analysis of how race, gender, class, and sexuality relate to our programming, goals, and outcomes. Self-work, including equity and diversity training, is necessary to transform youth work.

Torie will lead us in a discussion of race theory, exploration of cultural competence and intersectionality, and a critical spatial analysis. She will also guide strategy-building and action steps that we can immediately apply to our specific youth work contexts.


But Does It Work?: Building a System to Test the Nation’s Social Intervention Programs

Ron Haskins, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
Friday October 26th 2018
This talk is available online

Bio: Ron Haskins is a Senior Fellow and holds the Cabot Family Chair in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution, where he co-directs the Center on Children and Families. He is a past-president of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management. Haskins is the author of Show Me the Evidence: Obama’s Fight for Rigor and Evidence in Social Policy (Brookings, 2014) and Work Over Welfare: The Inside Story of the 1996 Welfare Reform Law (Brookings, 2006); co-author of Creating an Opportunity Society (Brookings, 2009) and Getting Ahead or Losing Ground: Economic Mobility in America (Pew Charitable Trusts and Brookings, 2008); and senior editor of The Future of Children. In 2002, he took a one-year leave from Brookings to serve as the Senior Advisor to the President for Welfare Policy at the White House. Prior to joining Brookings in 2001, he spent 14 years on the staff of the House Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee, serving as the subcommittee’s Staff Director after Republicans became the majority party in the House after the 1994 elections. He was editor of 1996, 1998, and 2000 editions of the House Ways and Means Green Book, a 1600-page compendium that describes and analyzes federal social programs. In 2016, Haskins and his long-time colleague Isabel Sawhill were awarded the Moynihan Prize for being champions of the public good and advocates for public policy based on social science research. In 1997, Haskins was selected by the National Journal as one of the 100 most influential people in the federal government. From 1981-1985, he was a senior researcher at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in History, a Master of Arts in Teaching, and a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from UNC. In his Washington career, he has focused on evidence-based policy, early childhood education, marriage and family formation, poverty, equal opportunity, abused and neglected children, and budget issues. Haskins lives with his wife in Pasadena, Maryland and has four grown children and three grandchildren.

Abstract: A host of articles in a recent issue (Volume 678, July 2018) of the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science show that the evidence-based policy movement has been expanding its influence in the scholarly world, in the nation’s capital, and in several state capitals. In the last few years, for example, the federal Congress has relied on rigorous evidence from evaluations of social programs to expand home visiting programs, education programs, child welfare programs, and programs that pay contractors only if they successfully implement projects and achieve clearly specified goals. Federal agencies are responding to these signals from Congress and have begun to focus research and development funding on programs that are supported by rigorous evidence, in part by making more funding available for research and evaluation by program applicants who base their work on programs that have produced significant impacts. In addition to these positive signs of the growth of the evidence-based movement, it is remarkable how many different activities are flourishing under the banner of evidence-based policy. These include the Obama Tiered-Evidence Initiatives, the Institute of Education Sciences, the White House Social and Behavioral Sciences Team, J-Pal, Pay for Success programs, the Pew-MacArthur Results First program, the growth of evidence clearinghouses, and the Ryan-Murray Evidence-Based Policy-Making Commission. Amidst these impressive signs of growth, however, three major problems have emerged: most programs fail to replicate when implemented in new locations; scaling up programs has proven equally difficult; and there is little indication that any national social problem has been significantly reduced by evidence-based policy. After reviewing the remarkable growth of evidence-based policy, we will focus attention on what can be done to address its shortcomings.


Beyond Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic: The Role of Teachers and Schools in Reporting Child Maltreatment

Maria Fitzpatrick, Associate Professor, Cornell University
Friday November 30th 2018
Co-sponsored by the Education Policy Seminar Series, the Batten School Research Speaker Series, and the Department of Economics

Bio: Maria Donovan Fitzpatrick is an Associate Professor in the Department of Policy and Management and Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research.  She is also an Affiliate in the CESifo Research Network, the Cornell Populations Center, the Center for the Study of Inequality, and the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research.  Her main area of focus is the economics of education.  Specifically her research focuses on early childhood education policies, higher education and teacher compensation, benefits and labor supply.

Before arriving at Cornell, Maria Fitzpatrick was a Searle Freedom Trust postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Economic Policy Research at Stanford University.  She received her Ph.D. in economics from the University of Virginia, where she was both an Institute for Education Sciences and Spencer Foundation Pre-Doctoral Fellow.  She obtained her B.A. in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Since being at Cornell, she spent one year as a visiting scholar at the National Bureau of Economics Research.

Abstract: Estimates suggest that nearly 4 in 10 children experience maltreatment at some point. Early detection is key in stopping maltreatment and in helping children recover from its negative effects, yet factors that drive early detection remain understudied. In this study, we focus on one possible source of early detection: educators in the school setting. Unique administrative data on nearly all reported cases of child maltreatment across the U.S. over a 14 year period allows us to use two different regression discontinuity methods, one based on school entry laws and the other based on school calendars. Both methods show an increase in reports by educators due to time in school that is not accompanied by a decrease in reports by others, suggesting education professionals are detecting cases that would have been missed otherwise. Our results indicate that educators play an important role in the early detection of child maltreatment.

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