Sean Corcoran, an associate professor of educational economics, took part in a technical symposium to discuss how the Obama administration should develop a federal ratings system for colleges and universities. Hosted by the U.S. Department of Education in February, the symposium featured experts on empirical methods for measuring performance, metric development, and state and federal postsecondary data and data collection and dissemination infrastructures.
In his presentation, Corcoran asked the audience of experts to consider:
• What is the purpose of a performance accountability system?
• What problems are we trying to solve through a ratings system?
• How do we expect this system and its specific metrics to change behavior.
He noted that metrics should be actionable and relevant to institutions and consumers and that a ratings systems should reflect quality in measures that correspond with consumers’ notions of quality.
Corcoran, a faculty member in Steinhardt’s Department of Humanities and Social Sciences in the Professions, undertakes research that focuses on human capital in the teaching profession, the economics of school choice, and state and local public finance. His papers have examined long-run trends in teacher quality, the impact of income inequality and school finance reform on the level and equity of education funding in the United States, the properties of “value-added” measures of teacher effectiveness, and the high school choices of middle school students in New York City.
(Sean Corcoran: Credit Debra Weinstein.)