This course examines a number of popular approaches to education reform, using an economic lens to understand the theoretical rationale and potential impact of each. The two primary goals of the course are (1) to familiarize students with the arguments and evidence relating to major reform strategies and (2) to provide students with the analytic framework and skills necessary to evaluate education (or other public) policies in general. Several themes will be emphasized throughout the course, including the role of evidence in evaluating policy options, input-based versus efficiency-based approaches to school reform, partial versus general equilibrium perspectives of reform, and the role of incentives, prices and markets. Substantive topics include the following: school choice, test-based accountability (i.e., high-stakes testing, including No Child Left Behind), early childhood education, teacher effectiveness, teacher labor markets, race and gender differences in student achievement, and the financial returns to education.
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