Education Policy Seminar Series - Fall 2019

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Fall 2019

Eric TaylorDoes Evaluation Distort Teacher Effort and Decisions?

Eric Taylor, Assistant Professor, Harvard University
Monday September 9, 2019, 12:00-1:30 PM  
Holloway Hall (Rm 116), Bavaro Hall

Bio: Eric Taylor is an assistant professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and is currently a visiting scholar at the University of Virginia. He studies the economics of education, with an interest in employer-employee interactions between schools and teachers — hiring and firing decisions, job design, training, performance evaluation, compensation. His work has been published in the American Economic Review, Journal of Human Resources, Journal of Labor Economics, and Journal of Public Economics; and featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Education Week. Taylorwas a Spencer Dissertation Fellow in 2014 and was recognized for Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring by the Stanford GSE in 2013.

Abstract: We show evidence of multitask distortion in schools. A short-lived rule created a discontinuity in teachers’ incentives when allocating effort across their assigned students (tasks). Students who failed the initial end-of-year test were retested weeks later, and only the higher of the two scores was used when calculating the teacher’s evaluation score. Consistent with the incentive for additional teacher effort, retested students score higher one year later (0.03σ) than do non-retested students, but only during the four years the rule applied. Students were treated differently by teachers because of evaluation rules, despite arguably equal returns to (claim on) teacher effort.


Three peopleAn Education Policy Panel Discussion

Heather Harding, Director, Policy and Public Understanding, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation
Doug Harris, Professor, Tulane University
Susanna Loeb, Professor, Brown University
Friday September 27, 2019, 11:00 AM-12:30 PM 
Holloway Hall (Rm 116), Bavaro Hall
Cosponsored with the Virginia Education Sciences Training (VEST) Curry Education Research Lectureship Series

Bio: Heather is the Director, Policy and Public Understanding for Education at the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. Based in our DC office, Heather leads a portfolio of investments that build a winning narrative about educational equity and advance policies that enable an education system that delivers excellence to all. Heather’s professional career has spanned classroom teaching, professional development, non-profit management and empirical research. She served as the founding Executive Director of a research-practice partnership at George Washington University and held several senior management roles at Teach For America. Heather was most recently a Senior Program Officer in Education at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Heather holds a master's and doctoral degrees in education policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and completed her undergraduate studies in Journalism at Northwestern. She retains her love of rigorous research & artful writing. She serves on several non-profit and charter school boards including the Elsie Whitlow Stokes Freedom Community Charter School in Washington, DC where her two children attend.

Bio: Doug is founding Director of the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans, Tulane Professor of Economics, and Schlieder Foundation Chair in Public Education. His research has helped inform and influence national debates over a range of education policies, especially in charter-based school reform, teacher evaluation, accountability, and college access. His first book, "Value-Added Measures in Education," was nominated for the national Grawemeyer prize in education and published by Harvard Education Press in 2011. His more than 50 academic articles have been cited more than 3,000 times by other researchers. He has advised the White House, the U.S. Senate, and several governors on education policy. He contributed to the Obama Administration's transition team on the measurement of school performance, advised the White House on college performance measures, and testified 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 college reform plans. Doug is also widely cited in the national media, including CNN, MSNBC, NPR, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, National Journal, and others. He has recently been named as one of the most influential economists studying education. In addition to his role as Director and professor, Doug is the University Endowed Chair in Public Education at Tulane and a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Previously, he was tenured Associate Professor of Education and Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Doug received his Ph.D. in economics from Michigan State University in 2000.

Bio: Susanna's research focuses broadly on education policy and its role in improving educational opportunities for students. Her work has addressed issues of educator career choices and professional development, of school finance and governance, and of early childhood systems. Before moving to Brown, Susanna was the Barnett Family Professor of Education at Stanford University. She was the founding director of the Center for Education Policy at Stanford and co-director of Policy Analysis for California Education. Susanna led the research for both Getting Down to Facts projects for California schools. She has been a member of the National Board for Education Sciences, a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, and a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research.


David McMillonA Theoretical Analysis of Disciplinary Policy and Behavioral Infractions in Schools

David McMillon, Advanced Doctoral Candidate, University of Chicago
Monday October 14, 2019, 12:00-1:30 PM  
Holloway Hall (Rm 116), Bavaro Hall

Bio: David B. McMillon is a doctoral candidate and Institute of Education Sciences fellow at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy. He was a Marjorie Lee Brown fellow at the University of Michigan where he earned two Master’s degrees, in Applied Mathematics and Industrial & Operations Engineering. His research interests lie in the application of cutting-edge quantitative techniques and complex systems theory to contemporary issues in social policy that affect low-income groups. He constructs mathematical and agent-based models of the spread of crime, mass incarceration, and the School-to-Prison Pipeline and has published in the Public Library of Science Journal (PLOS One). These interests emerge from the combination of his mathematical training, his upbringing in inner city Saginaw, Michigan, and his conviction that systemic disadvantage should be addressed with systems thinking. He hopes to pursue an academic career while consulting with policy makers and practitioners to help them make optimal data-driven decisions under uncertainty that reduce crime rates, improve public education outcomes, and combat the School-to-Prison Pipeline. He also hopes to help bridge the divide between research and policy more broadly.

Abstract: Often empirical research statically estimates the causal effects of disciplinary policy and various mechanisms that govern student behavior in isolation. However, students experience these mechanisms jointly and dynamically. Applied theory helps us foresee the [potentially unintended, surprising] consequences of this fact. I present a theoretical model that is based on salient mechanisms in relevant empirical literatures. With this model I explore how the consequences of disciplinary policy for the dynamics of behavioral infractions depend on certain interrelationships between these mechanisms (punitive vs positive discipline, peer effects, deterrence, attitude transferrence, attitude towards authority and self concept, etc.) that are usually studied separately and statically in the literature. As we will see, in a dynamic setting, these mechanisms can lead to tradeoffs, tipping points, and phase transitions that could help explain the policy resistance and mixed results of school disciplinary practices. They can also illuminate conditions under which small policy changes can lead to sweeping, transformative change in the larger school disciplinary climate. An in-depth bifurcation analysis suggests that these counter-intuitive dynamics are more likely to be present in predominately African-American schools.


Marty WestAn Education Politics of Place? Exploring Variation in Public Opinion Across U.S. States and School Districts

Marty West, Professor, Harvard University
Friday October 25, 2019, 11:00 AM-12:30 PM 
Holloway Hall (Bavaro Hall 116)
Cosponsored with the Virginia Education Sciences Training (VEST) Curry Education Research Lectureship Series

Bio: Martin R. West is the William H. Bloomberg Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and editor-in-chief of Education Next, a journal of opinion and research on education policy. He is also deputy director of Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance and a member of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. West studies the politics of K-12 education in the United States and how education policies affect student learning and social-emotional development. In 2013-14, he served as senior education policy advisor to the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. He previously taught at Brown University and was a research fellow at the Brookings Institution and the Hoover Institution.

Jon ValentIdentifying the Causes of Student Discipline Disparities and their Policy Implications

Jon Valant, Fellow, Brookings Institution
Monday November 4, 2019, 12:00-1:30 PM 
LDCC (Rm 302), Ruffner Hall

Bio: Jon Valant is a fellow in the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution. He studies K-12 education policy and politics, with a focus on equity and urban schools. Much of his current work examines urban school choice reforms, particularly in New Orleans, where he is a nonresident research fellow at the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans. He is especially interested in identifying school choice policies and practices that either improve or undermine the opportunities of disadvantaged students. Jon's research and commentary has appeared in a variety of outlets that includes the The New York Times, The Economist, PBS NewsHour, NPR, and CNN. He holds a PhD in education and an MA in political science from Stanford University, and an MPP from Harvard University.

Morgean DonaldsonTalk Title TBA***

Morgaen Donaldson, Associate Professor, University of Connecticut
Wednesday November 13, 2019, 11:00 AM-12:30 PM 
Location, title, and abstract TBA
Co-sponsored by the Curry Research Lectureship Series, the Batten School Research Speaker Series, and the Department of Economics

Bio: Morgaen L. Donaldson is an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Connecticut and Director of the University’s Center for Education Policy Analysis. She is also a Research Associate at the Center for Policy Analysis and a Research Affiliate of the Project on the Next Generation of Teachers at Harvard University. Dr. Donaldson began her career as a high school teacher in urban and semi-urban schools and was a founding faculty member of the Boston Arts Academy, Boston’s public high school for the arts. She also served as a Project Director in a Gates Foundation-funded effort to replicate the best practices of small schools successfully serving low-income and minority populations. As a researcher, Dr. Donaldson conducts quantitative and qualitative studies on educator quality, educator evaluation, teacher retention, school leadership, and teachers’ unions with a particular focus on urban and rural schools. She is currently conducting studies on New Haven (CT) Public Schools’ teacher evaluation system and other human capital development efforts; the state of Connecticut’s new education evaluation system; and the relationship between school organization and science achievement.

Genevieve Siegel-HawleyThis Generation’s Integration: Leadership, Policy and Practice for Diverse, Equitable Schools

Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, Associate Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University
Friday November 15, 2019, 11:00 AM-12:30 PM 
Holloway Hall (Bavaro Hall 116)
Cosponsored with Youth-Nex and the Virginia Education Sciences Training (VEST) Curry Education Research Lectureship Series

Bio: Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the School of Education at Virginia Commonwealth University. She examines the scope and dynamics of school segregation and resegregation in U.S. metropolitan areas, along with policies for promoting more integrated schools and communities. Siegel-Hawley has published numerous articles dealing with these topics in journals like the American Educational Research Journal, Teachers College Record, Harvard Educational Review, Educational Researcher and The Urban Review. She is the author of When the Fences Come Down: 21st Century Lessons from Metropolitan School Desegregation (University of North Carolina Press, 2016) and a forthcoming book, A Single Garment: Creating Intentionally Diverse Schools that Benefit All Students (Harvard Education Press, winter 2020).. Siegel-Hawley received her doctorate in Urban Schooling from UCLA and her masters in Educational Policy and Management from Harvard. She is a Richmond native and a proud graduate of and former teacher in Richmond Public Schools.

Miguel UrquiolaDo Parents Prefer Effective Schools? Evidence from External Validity and from an Expert

Miguel Urquiola, Professor, Columbia University
Monday December 2, 2019, 12:00-1:30 PM 
Holloway Hall (Bavaro Hall 116)
Cosponsored with the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy Research Speaker Series

Bio: Miguel Urquiola is professor and chair of the Department of Economics, Columbia University. He is also a member of the faculty of the School of International and Public Affairs, and of the Columbia Committee on the Economics of Education. Outside Columbia, Urquiola is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and has held prior appointments at Cornell University’s Economics Department, the World Bank’s research department, the Bolivian Catholic University, and the Bolivian government. He is on the editorial board of the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, and was previously co-editor of the Journal of Human Resources. His research is on the Economics of Education, with a focus on understanding how schools and universities compete, and how they form reputations for quality. It covers how students select educational providers, and the consequences such choices have on academic performance and labor market outcomes.

Veronica KatzThe Effect of Performance-Based Financial Incentives on Teacher Employment Decisions

Veronica Katz, Assistant Research Professor, University of Virginia
Friday December 6, 2019, 11:00 AM-12:30 PM 
Holloway Hall (Bavaro Hall 116)
Cosponsored with the Virginia Education Sciences Training (VEST) Curry Education Research Lectureship Series

Bio: Veronica has a longstanding interest in understanding factors that can improve teacher quality, especially in low-performing schools. She believes all students should have access to effective teachers, and this belief has driven her to focus much of her research on teacher evaluation and teacher retention, with an eye toward addressing the following question: what can be done to keep the best teachers in the schools that need them the most? To this end, Veronica co-authored a study evaluating the effects of differentiated teacher turnover on student achievement. She is currently working on a paper that examines the relationship between performance-based financial incentives and teachers’ decisions to teach in low-income and low-performing schools. In addition to studies that employ rigorous, quantitative methods, Veronica has contributed to literature reviews on teacher evaluation and teacher retention. Ultimately, Veronica seeks to use her methodological training to inform policies that will improve student outcomes.