Education Policy Seminar Series

The Education Policy Seminar Series are FREE and open to the public. No registration is required.
Parking is available at the Central Grounds Parking Garage.

The Education Policy Seminar Series is sponsored by the Bankard Foundation and EdPolicyWorks. For recommended readings or other questions about the series, please contact

Spring 2018


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

Maria Fitzpatrick, Associate Professor, Cornell University

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: It is estimated that 4 in 10 children experience some form of maltreatment by the time they are teenagers.  However, we know little about the role of reporters.  For example, although educators report many instances of child maltreatment, it could be the case that they are identifying and reporting maltreatment that would be reported by others.  We study the scope of role of teachers and other educators reporting child maltreatment by causally identifying the effect of exposure to school on child maltreatment reporting.  Unique administrative data on all reported cases of child maltreatment across the US over 14 years allows us to use two different regression discontinuity methods, one based on school entry laws and the other based on school calendars.  The additional reports due to time in school (and the resulting time with educators) are no less likely to be substantiated than other reports, suggesting that educators are no more likely to over-report than others. Our results indicate that educators play an important role in the early detection of child maltreatment.


Observing and Improving Teacher-Student Interactions from Early Childhood to High School – Lessons from Over A Decade of Research using CLASS

Bridget Hamre, Research Associate Professor and Associate Director of CASTL, University of Virginia
Friday February 16th 2018, 11:00-12:30 PM  
Holloway Hall (Rm 116), Bavaro Hall

Bio: My areas of expertise include student-teacher relationships and classroom processes that promote positive academic and social development for children. This work documents the ways in which teacher-child relationships are predictive of academic and social development and the ways in which exposure to effective classroom social and instructional interactions may help close the achievement gap for students at risk of school failure. With Drs. Robert Pianta and Karen La Paro, I authored an observational tool for classrooms called the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS). I lead efforts to use the CLASS as an assessment, accountability, and professional development tool in early childhood and other educational settings. I have recently worked with leaders in several states and the Office of Head Start to implement CLASS as a tool to enhance teacher-child interactions through accountability and professional development systems. Currently I am engaged in the development and testing of interventions designed to improve the quality of teachers' interactions with students' including MyTeachingPartner coaching model and an online course developed for early childhood teachers. I am also very interested the ways implementation science can inform our ability to successfully deliver these types of interventions at large scale.

Abstract: In this presentation Hamre will summarize over a decade of research using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) as a tool to support the systematic observation and improvement of teacher-student interactions. Hamre will discuss her own work as well as that of the many others researchers who have used the CLASS to gain a much deeper understanding of the types of teacher-child interactions that students are typically exposed to in classrooms as well as the ways in which these interactions help support students social, behavioral, and academic development. This research has been conducted across a broad set of contexts – from toddler to high school classrooms – within the U.S. and internationally. Hamre will also discuss the ways in which the CLASS has been used as a part of coaching and coursework interventions to help support teachers to improve their interactions with students.


Meta-analysis: Promise and Pitfalls

Austin Nichols, Principal Scientist at Abt Associate’s Social and Economic Policy Division (SEP)
Monday February 19th 2018, 11:00-12:30 PM 
Holloway Hall (Rm 116), Bavaro Hall
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Bio: Dr. Austin Nichols researches educational interventions, labor market policy, disability, tax and transfer policy, poverty and income mobility and volatility, health care, nonprofits and industrial organization, international development, and research methods.  Dr. Nichols is a Principal Scientist at Abt’s Social and Economic Policy Division (SEP), and serves as project director, director of design and analysis, and internal reviewer on Abt evaluations. He is working on survey design and analysis tasks for an Early Learning Study in Massachusetts, and studies of Broncos FIRST at Western Michigan University, and Success Boston which promotes college persistence among predominantly low-income and first-generation college-goers. He is also conducting analysis on an IES-sponsored evaluation of Academic Language Intervention, and on an evaluation of Preschool Expansion Grants in Massachusetts. He also conducts analysis for the Benefit Offset National Demonstration, whose nearly 1 million participants are SSDI beneficiaries. His other ongoing disability work includes the Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work project for DOL, and an Earnings Loss Study for VA. His research in the past 2 years has been published in Review of Industrial Organization, the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Social Security Bulletin, Economics of Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, World Bank Economic Review, and on the websites of the Urban Institute, Brookings, and Abt Associates.

Abstract: How should we synthesize across studies measuring the impact of some “treatment” or intervention X on some outcome Y? The use of meta-analysis, or its generalization meta-regression (meta-analytic regression), has been promoted as the most efficient means to synthesize this information, and shows tremendous promise in precisely estimating average impacts from a large number of small studies (even when each has insufficient power to detect impacts). However, the method has several potential pitfalls related to the selection of studies and estimates from those studies. The most serious of these concerns the inclusion of estimates constructed using quasi-experimental methods. This presentation will outline this fundamental problem and suggest some feasible solutions, using Bayesian meta-analysis methods.


It’s About Time: Evidence on Time Use in Full-Versus Half-Day Preschool Contexts

Allison Atteberry, Assistant Professor, University of Colorado-Boulder
Monday April 2nd 2018, 11:00-12:30 PM 
Holloway Hall (Rm 116), Bavaro Hall
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Bio: Allison Atteberry is an assistant professor in the Research and Evaluation Methodology (REM) program, within the CU-Boulder School of Education. She received her Ph.D. in 2011 from the Stanford School of Education in educational policy analysis, with a minor in statistics. Dr. Atteberry conducts research on teacher- and school-level interventions designed to improve the quality of instruction experienced by historically underserved students. As a field, we are increasingly aware of how difficult it is to determine whether policies, practices, and interventions have the intended impacts, and so Dr. Atteberry approaches her work with a strong interest in what constitutes compelling evidence of causal effects in quantitative research.


Rethinking the Problem of Teacher Quality

Susan Moore Johnson, Jerome T. Murphy Research Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Friday April 27th 2018, 11:00-12:30 PM  
LDCC (Rm 302), Ruffner Hall
This seminar is co-sponsored by the Curry Research Lectureship Series
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Bio: Susan Moore Johnson studies, teaches, and consults about teacher policy, organizational change, and administrative practice. A former high school teacher and administrator, Johnson has a continuing interest in the work of teachers and the reform of schools. She has studied the leadership of superintendents and organization of school districts; the effects of collective bargaining on schools; the priorities of local teacher union leaders; teacher evaluation; the use of incentive pay plans for teachers; and the school as a context for adult work. Currently, Johnson directs the Project on the Next Generation of Teachers, which examines how best to recruit, develop, and retain a strong teaching force. She is the author or co-author of six books and many articles. She served as academic dean of the Ed School from 1993 to 1999. Between 2007 and 2015, Johnson was co-chair of the Public Education Leadership Project (PELP) a collaboration between Harvard’s Education and Business Schools.

Abstract: Based on research documenting wide variation in teachers’ performance, policymakers began in 2000 to explain the shortcomings of US schools by pointing to problems of “teacher quality,”. Relying on strategies that would improve schools by increasing human capital one teacher at a time, they adopted new rules and regulations that reduced barriers to teaching for the “best and brightest;” ranked and rewarded teachers based on their students’ standardized test performance; and accelerated dismissal for sub-par teachers.  The logic was that schools staffed entirely with effective teachers would succeed.  However, these policies did not deliver the results many had hoped, especially in schools serving high-poverty communities.  In this talk, I will recommend a different perspective and response, arguing that schools cannot increase their capacity and success by focusing solely on the quality of individual teachers, but must simultaneously develop the school organizations in which those teachers work.  Based on school-based studies conducted with my colleagues at the Project on the Next Generation of Teachers over the past 20 years, I will explain how successful schools approach several key practices—hiring, teacher collaboration, and teacher evaluation—as organizational processes, which can contribute steadily to the school’s capacity and all teachers’ effectiveness.