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Wednesday, March 07, 2012
Value-Added with Multidimensional Teacher Ability
4:00 PM -  5:30 PM
Education Policy Initiative Seminar

We examine the theoretical and practical implications of ranking teachers according to a one dimensional value-added metric when teacher effectiveness is multi-dimensional. In particular, we consider the cases in which teachers teach multiple subjects or multiple student types. We outline the assumptions under which a standard value-added estimator correctly ranks teachers according to their social value. We demonstrate that these assumptions fail to hold empirically. This causes value-added based pairwise rankings of teachers to be often misleading, though the consequences of these ranking errors for students is small. We demonstrate that when teachers vary in ability across student types or subjects, student outcomes can be improved by matching teachers to students or subjects according to their comparative advantage. Our calibration suggests that these gains exceed those associated with firing the bottom 10 percent of teachers.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Aligning Teacher Improvement Strategies: A Mixed-Method Study of Teacher Reform in Minnesota
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Presenter: Nathaniel Schwartz, Education

This seminar provides a space for doctoral students and faculty from the School of Education, Ford School of Public Policy, and the Departments of Economics, Sociology, Statistics, and Political Science to discuss current research and receive feedback on works-in-progress. Discourse between these schools and departments will create a more complete community of education scholars, and will provide a networking opportunity for students enrolled in a variety of academic programs who share common research interests.

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Monday, March 19, 2012
Michigan's Controversial Emergency Manager Law: A panel discussion on fundamental issues of governance
4:00 PM -  5:30 PM
Policy Talks @ the Ford School

Michigan's new "Emergency Manager" law (Public Act 4 of 2011, the Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act) has garnered national attention and ignited debate on fundamental issues of democratic governance. Among the law's most controversial aspects is the transfer of power from local elected officials to unelected Emergency Managers, providing them the ability to make sweeping changes to local government, including the power to terminate collective bargaining agreements. Proponents of the law argue that it encourages local actors to make difficult decisions themselves, negotiating local agreements in order to avoid a state take-over. In cases where that fails, proponents argue that the law provides critical alternatives to municipal bankruptcy. Opponents argue that the law is undemocratic and unconstitutional, and they have launched efforts to overturn the Act.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Teachers vs the Public? Mapping the Fault Lines in the Politics of American Education
4:00 PM -  5:30 PM
Education Policy Initiative Seminar

The EdNext-PEPG Survey, conducted annually since 2007, provides unparalleled evidence on the public's understanding of and support for a range of prominent education policy proposals. Americans' evaluations of the nation's public schools are at an all-time low, but they continue to assign high ratings to the schools in their local community. Citizens tend to have more accurate information about school performance than about spending levels, and providing them with accurate information about current spending reduces their support for spending increases. Pluralities of the public support a range of current reform proposals related to teacher tenure and compensation, school choice and test-based accountability, but many of these ideas have less support among public school teachers. The overall cleavage between teachers and nonteachers is larger than that between other relevant subgroups, including members of the Democratic and Republican parties.

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Teachers vs. the Public? Mapping the Fault Lines in the Politics of American Education
4:00 PM -  5:30 PM
Presenter: Professor Martin West, Harvard University

This seminar provides a space for doctoral students and faculty from the School of Education, Ford School of Public Policy, and the Departments of Economics, Sociology, Statistics, and Political Science to discuss current research and receive feedback on works-in-progress. Discourse between these schools and departments will create a more complete community of education scholars, and will provide a networking opportunity for students enrolled in a variety of academic programs who share common research interests.

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Monday, March 26, 2012
Kids v. Adults: How Politics and Policy Conspire to Leave Children Behind
4:00 PM -  5:30 PM
Policy Talks @ the Ford School
Margaret Spellings

Lecture by the Honorable Margaret Spellings, Former U.S. Secretary of Education (2005-2009)

The seminal education law known as No Child Left Behind put critical pressure on our schools to dramatically improve education in America. Through accountability, testing, and consequences for failure, a more targeted focus on our neediest students has translated into measurable success for them. Since the law's passage ten years ago, we've learned much, including that more progress won't be made until we, as a nation, tackle the toughest issues: the use of people, time and valuable taxpayer dollars in more strategic and effective ways. Therein, lies the rub; will adults—policymakers, educators and parents—put the needs of students before their own? You be the judge as we discuss these urgent policy matters and the political dynamics at play.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012
A Survival Model of Student Loan Defaults
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Presenter: Katharina Ley, Engineering

This seminar provides a space for doctoral students and faculty from the School of Education, Ford School of Public Policy, and the Departments of Economics, Sociology, Statistics, and Political Science to discuss current research and receive feedback on works-in-progress. Discourse between these schools and departments will create a more complete community of education scholars, and will provide a networking opportunity for students enrolled in a variety of academic programs who share common research interests.

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