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In This Issue:

TSP Seminar Series: Oct. 16 - "Sinking or Swimming: Bilingual Education and the Achievement of Immigrant Youth"
Pathways Research Provides Foundation for Future Statewide Analysis
TSP Evaluates Engineering Curriculum
ERC Data & Expertise Integral in Comptroller’s Resource Allocation Study
Researcher Profile – Steven Rivkin
Data Holdings Update

TSP Seminar Series: Oct. 16

Texas Schools Project continues its 2009-2010 Seminar Series with Dr. Jordan Matsudaira, an economist from Cornell University, presenting, "Sinking or Swimming: Bilingual Education and the Achievement of Immigrant Youth."

Friday, October 16
12:00 - 1:00 pm
The University of Texas at Dallas, Green Hall - Room 3.606

Dr. Matsudaira's current research investigates the impact of bilingual education programs on the educational and economic outcomes of children of immigrants.

Mark your calendar to attend this fascinating presentation. For future planning, these seminars occur on the third Friday of each month. Invitations are sent monthly.

Questions? Contact Kristin Klopfenstein - k.klopfenstein@utdallas.edu or 972.883.2379

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Pathways Research Provides Foundation for Future Statewide Analysis

Dr. Colby Stoever, Senior Research Specialist with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, presented findings from his current project, “Pathways: Understanding High School to College Course Alignment,” at the September Texas Schools Project seminar.

“The Pathways Project, a study using data from high schools and higher education institutions within the same regions, specifically San Antonio, El Paso and Houston, has provided information on significant gaps in course alignment as students move from high school to higher education settings,” said Dr. Stoever. “The goal of the project is to design interventions to bridge this gap and then evaluate such interventions, making necessary changes.”

Attendees were interested in finding ways to apply his approach statewide. “Identifying gaps in high school to college course alignment is a critical component of evaluating college readiness,” said TSP Director, Dan O’Brien. “We look forward to seeing Dr. Stoever’s study move forward to encompassing statewide data.”

To view Dr. Stoever’s presentation, click here.

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TSP Evaluates Engineering Curriculum

Texas Schools Project has been asked to analyze the effect of a high-tech engineering curriculum, developed by The Infinity Project at the Lyle School of Engineering at Southern Methodist University, on Texas high school students’ academic achievement.

TSP’s evaluation will take place in two phases. Phase One consists of accessing data from The University of Texas at Dallas Education Research Center about students who participate in The Infinity Project to produce a preliminary report of descriptive statistics. Phase Two incorporates this data into an analysis of the program to examine the relationship between the curriculum and student academic achievement. Achievement is being measured by TAKS scores (science and math), on-time grade-to-grade promotions, and high school completion. This evaluation also lays the groundwork for future analysis of the program’s impact on college outcomes and beyond.

The Infinity Project was developed in 1999 by the Caruth Institute for Engineering Education at SMU and Texas Instruments (TI), working in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation and others, to close the gap between the number of engineering graduates produced in the U.S. and the growing need for students trained in the field.

“It is of utmost importance that students be well equipped to compete in a globally competitive 21st century. This study will help us evaluate the effect our curriculum is having on these students,” said Torrence Robinson, TI director of public affairs and co-founder of The Infinity Project.

The evaluation, which includes high schools from more than 25 school districts throughout Texas, is scheduled to be completed by year-end, under the direction of Dr. Kristin Kuhne, manager of the newly formed evaluation unit at TSP.
(read more)pdf

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ERC Data & Expertise Integral in Comptroller’s Resource Allocation Study

In an effort to improve academic achievement and encourage more effective use of public education dollars, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs will conduct a study of school district resource allocation practices that contribute to high academic achievement and cost-effective operations. The study, required by House Bill 3 enacted by the 81st Legislature, will use the data and expertise of the UT Dallas Education Research Center.

“Public education spending will continue to grow as our population increases and as state policymakers recognize the important role our schools play in preparing the work force necessary for a strong economy,” Combs said. “This study will be an analysis of what schools are spending and their academic outcomes.”

The UT Dallas Education Research Center, which has significant expertise in education data integration and analysis, has been asked to provide technical advice for the study. Working with the Education Research Center will be a select group of national experts in school accountability, statistical methods, psychometrics, and finance. The Comptroller has also enlisted the advice of a group of Texas superintendents in the study’s development and implementation.

“Developing new measures to determine which schools and school districts have achieved the highest performance in both academics and financial efficiency is far too important to be left to a single institution or a few experts,” said Dan O’Brien, Director of Texas Schools Project, which oversees the UT Dallas Education Research Center. “Therefore, we are drawing from the best and most experienced researchers in school finance and student achievement to guide the Comptroller’s resource allocation study.”
(read more)pdf

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Researcher Profile – Steven Rivkin

Steven Rivkin is the Rachel and Michael Deutch Professor of Economics and Chair of the Department of Economics at Amherst College. He is also a researcher with Texas Schools Project and a member of our Executive Committee, a Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and a senior researcher with The National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER).

Dr. Rivkin has authored or co-authored a multitude of papers over the past twenty years, many of which have been published in scholarly journals. Main areas of interest for Dr. Rivkin are the economics and sociology of education, for which he has written on a wide range of issues including school choice, school desegregation, special education, student mobility, teacher quality, class size, charter schools, and teacher labor markets.

Recent papers by Dr. Rivkin that have used data from Texas Schools Project include "New Evidence about Brown v. Board of Education: The Complex Effects of School Racial Composition on Achievement" (with Eric Hanushek and John Kain, Journal of Labor Economics, July 2009), “Harming the Best: How Schools Affect the Black-White Achievement Gap” (with Eric Hanushek, Journal of Applied Policy and Management, Forthcoming), and “Does Pollution Increase School Absences?” (with Janet Currie, Eric Hanushek, E. Megan Kahn, and Matthew Neidell, Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming).

Dr. Rivkin also authored a paper published in Econometrica (with Eric Hanushek and John Kain) in 2005 entitled “Teachers, Schools and Academic Achievement.” This paper, using TSP data, investigated the effects of class size and teacher quality on student achievement. The results showed that there were substantial differences in teacher quality as measured by student learning but that easily measured teacher characteristics including experience and possession of an MA explain little of the differences across classrooms in teacher effectiveness.

On November 6, 2009, Dr. Rivkin will present his latest research, “Principal Turnover and Effectiveness,” with Gregory Branch and Eric Hanushek, at the 31st Annual APPAM Research Conference in Washington, D.C. This research focuses on school leadership and the impact of principals on student achievement. Data analysis suggests that principals follow similar patterns to those of teachers – preferring schools that have higher income students, higher achieving students, and fewer minority students. Additionally, the authors find some small but significant effects of the tenure of a principal in a school and more significant results related to the estimates of variations in principal effectiveness. The most effective principals tend to be those in schools with higher income and higher achieving students, although these tendencies are small compared to the estimates of the overall variation in principal effectiveness. Data used for the study was rich panel data on principals in Texas, at the Texas Schools Project.

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Data Holdings Update - October 1, 2009

The University of Texas at Dallas Education Research Center (UTD-ERC), part of Texas Schools Project, houses a wealth of data provided by the Texas Education Agency, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and State Board for Educator Certification.

A complete listing of current data available can be found on our website under Data Holdings.

Information on accessing this data can be found on our website under Access.

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A research center within the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences