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In This Issue:

TSP Special Seminar: Nov. 13 - "Do Disadvantaged Urban Schools Lose Their Best Teachers?"
TSP Seminar Series: Nov. 20 - "RD Design & Its Application in Evaluating Educational Programs"
An Econometric Approach to Bilingual Education Research
Gift Expands Research into Early Childhood Education
UTD-ERC Participates in Launch of Texas Consortium on School Research
Researcher Profile – Eric Hanushek
Data Holdings Update

TSP Special Seminar: This Friday, Nov. 13!

Texas Schools Project will host a special seminar this Friday, Nov. 13, with Steve Rivkin, presenting,
"Do Disadvantaged Urban Schools Lose Their Best Teachers?"

Friday, November 13
3:00 - 4:00 pm
The University of Texas at Dallas, Green Hall - Room 2.302

Dr. Rivkin is Professor of Economics and Chair of the Department of Economics at Amherst College. He is also a member of Texas Schools Project’s Executive Committee, a Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and part of the CALDER Texas team. His main areas of interest are the economics and sociology of education, where he has written on a wide range of issues including teacher quality.

Questions? Contact Kristin Klopfenstein - [email protected] or 972.883.2379

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TSP Seminar Series: Nov. 20

Texas Schools Project continues its regular 2009-2010 Seminar Series with a double-header presentation by Dr. Brian McCall and Dr. Steve DesJardins, both of the University of Michigan.

Friday, November 20
11:00am - 12:00 pm, "Regression Discontinuity Design: Econometric Issues"
12:00 - 1:00 pm, "Investigating the Effects of the Gates Millennium Scholars & Washington State Achievers Programs"
The University of Texas at Dallas, Green Hall - Room 3.606

Dr. McCall will discuss the regression discontinuity (RD) design as a quasi-experimental evaluation approach that has been used widely to evaluate social programs. He will also address some of the more recent econometric developments in the RD literature, with a particular focus on non-parametric estimation methods and bandwidth selection issues.

Dr. DesJardins will present the results of studies, which employ the RD design, of two educational programs, the Gates Millennium Scholars and Washington State Achievers programs, both of which focus on providing an opportunity for outstanding minority students with significant financial need to reach their highest potential.

You are welcome to attend either or both of these presentations. Pizza, cookies and beverages provided.

For future planning, these seminars occur on the third Friday of each month. Invitations are sent monthly.

Questions? Contact Kristin Klopfenstein - [email protected] or 972.883.2379

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An Econometric Approach to Bilingual Education Research

Dr. Jordan Matsudaira, economist and associate professor at Cornell University, presented findings from his study, “Sinking or Swimming: Bilingual Education and the Achievement of Immigrant Youth,” at the October Texas Schools Project seminar.

“Opinions on bilingual education versus English immersion have changed over the years,” said Dr. Matsudaira. “My study, in part, looks at the question of whether English immersion is superior in promoting the achievement of limited English proficient students relative to the counterfactual of receiving some kind of language-based supplementary education.”

Dr. Matsudaira demonstrated the effects of participation in bilingual education programs on fourth grade students in a large, urban district in the northeast US. “Studying the effects of bilingual education programs versus immersion programs is an important topic, not only in Texas, but throughout the country,” commented TSP Director, Dan O’Brien. “With an increase in English language learner populations, understanding the outcomes of such programs is key to increasing student achievement.”

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

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Gift Expands Research into Early Childhood Education

The benefits of a high-quality preschool education are being studied with increasing detail, courtesy of a $100,000 gift from an anonymous fund of The Dallas Foundation to the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences (EPPS) at The University of Texas at Dallas. The philanthropic organization provided the funding to expand a previous study showing that an accredited preschool education can benefit low-income students well into their elementary years.

The research began in 2006 when Educational First Steps (EFS), a nonprofit Dallas organization, approached Dr. Richard K. Scotch and asked him to study how students with low-income backgrounds fared in school after attending accredited EFS preschools and learning centers. Scotch, a professor of sociology and political economy, worked with Dr. Kristin Kuhne, research scientist at Texas Schools Project, using data exclusively from the Dallas Independent School District.

“The new funding allows us to expand beyond our original research and track many more students as they progress through elementary years,” Scotch said. “Now we will be able look across the region and see how thousands of students who attended EFS preschools are doing on standardized tests in elementary school, whether they’re being placed in bilingual classes, how well they’re doing overall academically, and so on.”
(read more)

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UTD-ERC Participates in Launch of Texas Consortium on School Research

Leaders from 19 Texas school districts plus additional educational organizations gathered in Houston recently for the formation and launch of the Texas Consortium on School Research. The event was sponsored by the Regional Educational Laboratory – Southwest (REL Southwest at Edvance Research) and was held adjacent to the Texas Association of School Administrators and Texas Association of School Boards (TASA/TASB) fall conference.

The Texas Consortium was modeled on the successful work of the Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR) who is collaborating on the Texas Consortium with REL Southwest, along with The University of Texas at Dallas Education Research Center (UTD-ERC).

The goal of the Texas Consortium is to allow members from districts across the state to collaborate in building research capacity to address critical issues to support improvement efforts. The Texas Consortium will also allow participants to create a “community of practice” through shared knowledge and practices.

Dr. Dean Nafziger, REL Southwest at Edvance Research Laboratory Director, expressed enthusiasm for the establishment of the Texas Consortium stating, “School districts across the nation are seeking to understand how factors that impact student achievement can be positively affected to significantly improve student outcomes. The Texas Consortium can assist districts in utilizing evidence-based indicators to develop action plans that result in measurable improvements.”
(read more)pdf

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Researcher Profile – Eric Hanushek

Chair, Texas Schools Project Executive Committee

Eric Hanushek is the Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. He is also a researcher and chairman of the Executive Committee for Texas Schools Project, a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, a member of the Koret Task Force on K-12 Education, and the chair of the Board of Directors of the National Board for Education Sciences.

Areas of interest for Dr. Hanushek include teacher quality, accountability, school finance, equity, and class size. He was the first researcher to measure teacher effectiveness by the learning gains of the teacher's students. This work is the foundation of the now-common approach to assessing teacher quality by the "value-added" of the teacher.

In addition to his plethora of published articles, Dr. Hanushek has also authored many books on education policy including his most recent book, "Schoolhouses, Courthouses, and Statehouses: Solving the Funding-Achievement Puzzle in America's Public Schools." This newest book focuses on how improved school finance policies can be used to meet our educational achievement goals.

The book has received very positive reviews. Jay Mathews of the Washington Post wrote, "It is enlightening, maddening, hopeful, frustrating and amazingly informative. . . . The book provides a terrific summary of how the U.S. education system has changed since World War II. It makes a telling argument about how much our well-being depends on our schools. It eviscerates the policymaking that has ruled public education for the last half century. And it buries for all time the notion that getting the courts to fix our schools has any chance of success.”

Roy Romer, chairman of Strong Schools America, former Los Angeles school superintendent, and former Colorado governor, also endorsed the book saying, "This is a must-read for policymakers, parents, and the public. Too many people fail to understand the seriousness of the educational crises we face. Too many think that tinkering with the current system will be enough. This book not only sets out the dimensions of the problem clearly and forcefully but also provides a path for improvement."

In a recent interview, Dr. Hanushek was asked about “Race to the Top” funds. He replied, “I absolutely think the Secretary (of Education, Arne Duncan) is doing the right thing . . . He has chosen particularly important issues to take to the states: developing systems for ensuring that there are effective teachers in every classroom; encouraging more competition in education through expanding charter schools; and developing good data systems that allow for reliable evaluation of programs and teachers. These are central elements of the funding and policy proposals in my recent book (Schoolhouses, Courthouses, and Statehouses), so I am thrilled that the Secretary is putting the force and the funding of the federal government behind these ideas. The essential unifying idea is that we should provide strong incentives to improve student performance – and each of these policy thrusts fits into that overall structure. . . . Moreover, he has done this in a way that respects the states’ central role in education, while encouraging their movements in productive directions.”

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Data Holdings Update - November 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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Texas Schools Project - 800 W. Campbell Rd. WT21 - Richardson, TX 75080 - 972.883.2555
A research center within the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences