Two Grad Students at EdPolicyWorks Win New Scholars Award at AEFP


The Association for Education Finance & Policy (AEFP) recently announced the awards for this week’s annual conference and two EdPolicyWorks graduate students will be joining this year’s recipients. 

Mindy Adnot, a Curry School Education Policy Ph.D student, and Alex Smith, a Department of Economics Ph.D student, have been selected to receive the 2015 New Scholars Award. Only three scholars nationwide will receive this award in 2015, and two are from the University of Virginia. This prestigious award recognizes promising research by master’s and doctoral students whose research rigorously addresses timely education finance and policy questions.

Mindy Adnot

“As a graduate student, it can be intimidating to put your work in front of senior scholars,” explained Adnot. “Being recognized by AEFP for promising work gives me confidence that, even if I don’t have everything about this project right yet, I’m headed in the right direction.”

Adnot’s proposed research, “The Malleability of Teaching Practice: Changes in Teacher Practice and Student Achievement under the District of Columbia’s IMPACT Teacher Evaluation System,” leverages administrative data on teachers and students from the District of Columbia Public Schools’ (DCPS) to examine teachers’ ability to improve teaching practices. 

“This work is part of our Practitioner-Researcher partnership with DCPS,” added Adnot. “Our partners at DCPS are such enthusiastic and engaged consumers of research that it’s great to have new findings to share with them.”

Smith’s proposed research, “The Long-Run Non-Cognitive Effects of Universal Pre-K,” examines the effects of universal preschool in Oklahoma on young-adult, non-cognitive outcomes. Although there has been growing investments in early childhood education, little evidence exists on the long-term impact of large state preschool programs and this work fills that gap.

Alex Smith

“It is very rewarding to have my work in this area recognized by the distinguished members of AEFP’s award committee,” said Smith.

“It motivates me to press on with research in this area, in particular, by expanding my approach to look at other outcomes and universal Pre-K implementations in other settings,” added Smith.

Proposals were judged on a number of criteria including if issues were clearly explained, seemed feasible, and were innovative. Adnot and Smith will be recognized during first general session at the AEFP conference this week and receive a small financial award for their research. Both will also present their work at the conference.

With acceptance of this award, Adnot and Smith join an elite group of previous recipients, including Andrew Barr, a U.Va. Economics and EdPolicyWorks graduate student, who won in 2013 and Professor Dan Player in 2005.

Adnot is also a pre-doctoral fellow in the Virginia Education Science Training (VEST) program sponsored by the Institute of Educational Sciences, and Smith is a VEST program alumna.

EdPolicyWorks is a joint collaboration between the Curry School of Education and the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. EdPolicyWorks brings together researchers from across the University of Virginia and the State to focus on important questions of educational policy and implications for the workforce.