IES-PIRT Proseminar Series

The Institute of Education Sciences-funded Predoctoral Interdisciplinary Research Training (IES-PIRT) program is an interdisciplinary fellowship program designed to train students of diverse backgrounds to become outstanding researchers in the educational sciences. In addition to funding doctoral students from the seven affiliated departments across NYU the program includes a proseminar series. The series brings together presentations by both NYU and external experts who will help to introduce, reintroduce, and consolidate students' advanced understanding of the concepts of internal, external, construct, and statistical validity.

Unless otherwise noted, all sessions are open to the public (note that anyone unaffiliated with IHDSC may be asked to provide a photo ID at the security desk). Unless otherwise noted, all sessions are scheduled at 12:00pm-1:30pm in Kimball Hall, 246 Greene Street, Room 607W.

Spring 2019

2/11: Dr. Francis Alvin Pearman, Assistant Professor of Urban Education, University of Pittsburgh

Title: The Moderating Effect of Neighborhood Poverty on Preschool Effectiveness: Evidence from the Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten Experiment

This study drew data from a randomized control trial of the Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program and presents new evidence on the impacts of pre-k on 3rd-grade achievement using administrative data on children’s neighborhood environments. Results indicated that pre-k significantly improved 3rd-grade reading achievement for children living in high-poverty neighborhoods. The treatment effects were substantial: among children living in high-poverty neighborhoods, those who took up an experimental assignment to attend pre-k scored over half a standard deviation higher on average than the control group in 3rd grade. In contrast, pre-k enrollment had, if anything, a negative effect on 3rd-grade reading achievement among children living in low-poverty neighborhoods. The differential pre-k effect across neighborhood poverty was partially explained by the distribution of alternative childcare options and the extent to which children were exposed to contextual risk factors in their community.


3/11: Dr. Dana McCoy, Assistant Professor of Education, Harvard University

Title: Examining Trajectories of Behavior Problems in Low-Income Children: Impacts of the Chicago School Readiness Project

This presentation will highlight new findings from the Chicago School Readiness Project (CSRP), an early intervention program targeting classroom quality and child social-emotional development in Head Start settings. We use person- and variable-centered approaches to describe low-income children's profiles of behavior problem development from preschool through the end of elementary school. We also consider the ways that random assignment to the CSRP intervention may impact children's probability of ending up in each of these different trajectory profiles. Finally, we examine whether these impacts may vary depending on children's subsequent elementary school environments. Implications of this work for research on intervention "fade out" and early educational policy will be discussed.


4/1: Dr. Susanna Loeb, Director, Annenberg Institute at Brown University, Professor of Education and International and Public Affairs

Title: Educational Goods: Values, Evidence and Decision Making

We spend a lot of time arguing about how schools might be improved. But we rarely take a step back to ask what we as a society should be looking for from education — what exactly should those who make decisions be trying to achieve? Educational Goods advances a theory of how to combine values and evidence in decision-making about education. The book identifies three kinds of value that must be balanced against each other: a theory of the kind of educational outcomes schools should aim at; a theory of how educational opportunities should be distributed; and independent values that should be considered when they conflict with the first two kinds of value. The evidence that decision-makers should seek out and consider is that which bears on how these values will be realized through the choices they make, and the book articulates a distinctive method for thinking about the evidence in the light of the values. The method is illustrated through consideration of 3 central policy issues: school financing, school accountability systems, and school choice mechanisms


4/15: Dr. Jade Jenkins, Assistant Professor, University of California, Irvine

Title: The Returns of an Additional Year of Schooling: The Case of State-Mandated Kindergarten

In this presentation, we examine the effects of state mandatory kindergarten requirements on long-run educational attainment and labor market outcomes. While in most states kindergarten began as a voluntary program, starting in the 1970s some states evolved to mandating kindergarten attendance. Several changes in state mandatory school entrance laws across—and in some instances, within—states over time provide an opportunity to causally identify the influence of an additional year of ECE on important individual education and labor market outcomes, comparing states with mandatory attendance to those with voluntary attendance. We exploit this natural experimental design using data from the Census and ACS 2000-2015. We find overall impacts of mandatory kindergarten attendance on educational attainment in adulthood. We also find heterogeneous impacts by sex and race and ethnicity, with women and underrepresented children benefiting most in terms of educational attainment and income. Our results provide insight on the anticipated impact of universal prekindergarten programs given the national trend towards preschool for all.


4/22: Dr. Rucker Johnson, Associate Professor of Public Policy, University of California Berkeley

Title: Children of the Dream: Why School Integration Works

[Co-sponsored with the Urban Seminar]


4/29: Dr. Daniel McFarland, Professor of Education, Stanford University

Title: Rhetorics of Reproduction: Field Change in Education and Sociology 1980-2010

How do intellectual fields change? We contend that fields are composed of incumbents who continually appeal to shifting research preferences of new recruits in order to renew and sustain salient positions and engrossment. In so doing, the field changes its “religion” even though “priests” come from the same institutions and are selected on traditional criteria. We develop this argument with comprehensive data on over 137,000 education-related and 80,000 sociology-related dissertations completed at U.S. universities and those graduates’ pursuant academic careers. Utilizing structural topic models, we infer semantic positions students take in their theses and trace resultant research trends in their fields. Further, logistic regressions show that semantic position-takings are significantly influencing the likelihood that graduates become doctoral advisors—net of structural conditions (e.g., gender, race). In education, interpretive topics have positive career returns, while in sociology, topics reflective of the “cultural turn” have positive career returns. At elite institutions, both structural and semantic effects are most pronounced. Academic power, hence, caters to certain semantic positions while favoring individuals with essentially the same forms of valued capital that fit traditional elite characteristics (ethnicity, performance).


Proseminar Archive