Research Opportunities in Education Policy

Faculty engaged with the Educational Policy Ph.D. program have a number of ongoing research projects happening, but only some are highlighted here. The following descriptions provide a broad overview of what the research and faculty-student collaborations may look like in the Educational Policy Ph.D. program.

Core Faculty

Daphna Bassok is an Assistant Professor of Education and Public Policy and is also the Associate Director of EdPolicyWorks. Her research addresses early childhood education policy, with a particular focus on the impacts of policy interventions on the academic and social well-being of low-income children. She is currently leading a large-scale, IES-funded project to examine Louisiana’s efforts to overhaul their early childhood education system and improve access to high quality preschool opportunities. In another project, funded by the Spencer Foundation, Bassok is examining changes in parenting practices over the past two decades and their contribution to socio-economic achievement gaps at school entry.  Other current projects include an evaluation of Florida’s Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten program as well as several studies documenting unequal access to high-quality early childhood opportunities across communities.

Ben Castleman is currently working on several large-scale field interventions that apply behavioral economics and social psychology to improve college access and success for low-income and non-traditional students. As part of an IES-funded project, Ben is collaborating with the College Board and researchers at Harvard and the University of Pittsburgh to send tens of thousands of high school juniors personalized text message reminders about the college and financial aid application process. He is also collaborating with the College Board, the College Advising Corps, and researchers at Stanford to design and evaluate a virtual college advising intervention for tens of thousands of high school seniors across the country. Ben is working with the Community College of Baltimore County to evaluate whether sending community college students personalized information about student loan origination leads to more informed borrowing decisions.

Luke C. Miller is a Research Assistant Professor with EdPolicyWorks. His areas of expertise include economics of education, teacher labor markets, rural education, and education policy. Luke applies his analytic, leadership and managerial skills to innovative research projects that explore educational phenomena, assess the impacts of policies, reforms and programs on student and teacher outcomes, and evaluate state and federal educational policies. Current projects explore how the status of the teaching profession may have change in the last several decades and the potential impact on the recruitment of teachers to rural schools, teacher tenure reform, the role of principals in talent development, and the effects of state-supported pre-kindergarten on early childhood outcomes. Weaving together Luke’s research is a commitment to rigorous analysis of large comprehensive datasets to produce policy-relevant findings that strengthen the quality of the educational opportunities afforded individuals.

Jim Wyckoff directs the Education Policy PhD program and EdPolicyWorks (Center on Education Policy and Workforce Competitiveness).  He is a PI on grants from NSF and several foundations to explore policies on teacher preparation, recruitment and retention on the quality of the teaching workforce and outcomes for students.  Wyckoff currently serves on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Children Eligible for School Nutrition Programs, the Scientific Review Panel of the U.S. Department of Education, the editorial board of Education Finance and Policy and on several advisory panels.

Affiliate Faculty

Dave Grissmer is a Research Professor who has research grants for $14M from NSF and IES focuses on the role of early cognitive skills like executive function, visuo-spatial, socio-emotional and general knowledge on later achievement.

Brian Pusser is an Associate Professor in Higher Education at the Curry School of Education and his research focuses on the organization and governance of higher education institutions, state and national postsecondary policies, and international higher education. 

Josipa Roksa is Associate Professor of Sociology and Education, and studies inequality in higher education, from access and learning to completion and transition into the labor market; currently, she is engaged in several projects that examine the role of family resources and financial aid in persistence and degree completion as well as social class and racial/ethnic inequalities in development of skills in higher education.

Sarah Turner is a Professor of Economics and Education, and studies the economics of education, labor economics, and public finance. She is an expert in econometric methods, using these methods in studies of voucher and subsidy effects on educational outcomes and is particularly interested in the finance of teacher training.

Vivian Wong is an assistant professor and research methodologist interested in evaluating interventions in early childhood and K-12 systems, and improving the design, implementation and analysis of randomized experiments, regression-discontinuity, interrupted time series, and matching designs in field settings.

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