Education Policy Seminar Series - Fall 2018

For the current Education Policy Seminar Series, please visit our website.

Fall 2018


"It's Who You Know": How Teachers Use Social Networks to Find Jobs in Decentralized Labor Markets

Huriya Jabbar, Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Austin
Monday October 15th 2018

Bio: Huriya Jabbar is an assistant professor in the Educational Policy and Planning program in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy. Her research examines the social and political dimensions of market-based reforms and privatization in education. She is currently studying school choice policy and school leaders' behavioral responses to competition; choice and decision-making in higher education; and teacher job choices, recruitment, and retention. Her work has been published in the American Educational Research Journal, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Harvard Educational Review, Educational Administration Quarterly, and Educational Researcher. She is also affiliated with the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans at Tulane University, where she continues to study issues related to school choice in New Orleans, and is a Faculty Research Affiliate at the Population Research Center at UT. She was a 2013 recipient of the National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship and a 2016 NAED/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow. Huriya received a B.A. in Economics from the University of California at Santa Cruz, an M.A. in Economics from the New School for Social Research, and Ph.D in Education Policy, Organization, Measurement, & Evaluation from the University of California, Berkeley.

Abstract: Teacher labor markets are evolving with the rise of charter schools and alternative teacher certification. These trends are transforming teachers’ access to employment and changing the way they search for and apply for jobs. As a result, these shifts may also change the role that teachers’ social networks—the ties they turn to for connections or advice—play in the job-search process. In this talk, I present results from an ongoing study, using data from in-depth interviews with 128 teachers in New Orleans, Detroit, and San Antonio, related to how teachers use their social networks to find jobs, as well as the nature of teacher labor market segmentation in these cities. We find that the extent of fragmentation in a city’s labor market drives the use of networks, with networks becoming more important in settings where information on job openings is less centralized. I will also share preliminary findings that examine how teachers decide between charter and traditional public schools in these settings, revealing some of the drivers of teacher labor market segmentation in these sites. This work has implications for teacher hiring and recruitment in charter-dense cities.



Increasing access to selective high schools through place-based affirmative action: Unintended consequences

Lauren Sartain, Senior Research Analyst at the UChicago Consortium
Monday October 22nd 2018
This seminar is available online

Bio: Lauren Sartain is a Senior Research Analyst at the UChicago Consortium. She has a bachelor's degree from the University of Texas at Austin, as well as a master's degree in public policy and a PhD from the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. She has worked at Chapin Hall and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Sartain's research interests include principal and teacher quality, school choice, and urban school reform.

Abstract: We investigate whether elite Chicago public high schools differentially benefit high-achieving students from more and less affluent neighborhoods. The place-based affirmative action policy allocates seats based on achievement and neighborhood socioeconomic status (SES). Using regression discontinuity design, we find that these schools do not raise test scores overall, but students are generally more positive about their high school experiences. For students from low-SES neighborhoods, we estimate negative effects on grades and the probability of attending a selective college. We present suggestive evidence that these findings for students from low-SES neighborhoods are driven by the negative effect on relative achievement ranking.


Can School Rankings Improve Performance? Evidence from a Nationwide Reform in Tanzania

Isaac Mbiti, Assistant Professor, the University of Virginia
Monday November 12th 2018

Bio: Isaac M. Mbiti is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Economics at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. Prior to his appointment at the Batten School, Mbiti was an Assistant Professor of Economics at Southern Methodist University and also served as a Martin Luther King Visiting Assistant Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  His research has focused broadly on African economic development with particular interests in examining the role of education policies such as free primary education and teacher performance pay programs, as well as the potential for new technologies (especially mobile phones) to spur the development process. His ongoing research projects in East and West Africa evaluate various policies that aim to improve the livelihoods of African youth through training programs.

Abstract: We examine the impacts of Tanzania's Big Results Now in Education (BRN) Initiative on student learning outcomes. BRN was a top-down accountability reform that published both nationwide and within-district school rankings, among other policies, starting in 2013. Combining data on the universe of school performance from 2011--2016 with supplemental administrative data on schools, as well as the World Bank Service Delivery Indicator data sets from the post-reform period, we identify the impacts of the school ranking policy using a difference-in-difference estimator. Our identification strategy exploits the differential pressure exerted on schools at the top and bottom of their respective districts. We find that BRN improved learning outcomes for schools in the bottom two deciles of their districts: pass rates improved by 5.7 percentage points for schools in the bottom decile, and school average test scores improve by 0.19 standard deviations. We find no evidence that these gains resulted from increases in physical, human, or financial inputs into schools. We also find no evidence of redistribution of resources from schools at the center of their district distribution to schools at the tails. In contrast, we find that the number of test-takers falls in schools facing pressure from the school ranking policy; this appears to be driven by the strategic exclusion of students from attending the terminal year of primary school where they would take the test used to rank schools. Overall, our results suggest that the program had mixed results by improving the learning outcomes for some but at a cost of excluding others from further educational opportunities.


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 Curry Research Lectureship 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.


School Nutrition and Student Discipline: Effects of Schoolwide Free Meals

Nora Gordon, Associate Professor, Georgetown University
Thursday December 6th 2018
Co-sponsored by the Applied Microeconomics Seminar Series

Bio: Nora Gordon is Associate Professor at Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy and Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. Her research focuses on fiscal federalism in American education policy and especially the current and historical federal role in elementary and secondary education. She has studied the causes and consequences of school desegregation, state school finance reforms, and school district consolidation. Professor Gordon is an expert on Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. She testified before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on implementation of its 2015 reauthorization, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). She is a member of the Expert Panel to the U.S. Department of Education on its “Study on the Title I Formula” as mandated by ESSA. She is also a member of the District of Columbia’s state Title I Committee of Practitioners. She is currently studying the effects of school nutrition on student discipline, and historical trends in how states use categorical versus general aid for education. Professor Gordon's research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Spencer Foundation for Education Research, the American Educational Research Association, and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

Abstract: Under the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), schools serving sufficiently high-poverty populations may enroll their entire student bodies in free lunch and breakfast programs, extending free meals to some students who would not qualify individually and potentially decreasing the stigma associated with free meals. We examine whether CEP affects disciplinary outcomes, focusing on the use of suspensions. We use school discipline measures from the Civil Rights Data Collection and rely on the timing of pilot implementation of CEP across states to assess how disciplinary infractions evolve within a school as it adopts CEP. We find modest reductions in suspension rates among elementary and middle but not high school students. While we are unable to observe how the expansion of free school meals affects the dietary intake of students in our national sample, we do observe that for younger students, these reductions are concentrated in areas with higher levels of estimated child food insecurity. Our findings suggest that the impact of school-based child nutrition services extends beyond the academic gains identified in some of the existing literature.