Peer-Reviewed Publications

“An Evaluation of The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship’s Effect on PhD Production at Non-UNCF Institutions” (with Gary Cohen, Ronald Ehrenberg, and George Jakubson), 2016, Economics of Education Review, vol 53: 284-295. [LINK] Also published as NBER working paper 21451.

The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program (MMUF) encourages underrepresented minority (URM) students to pursue PhD study with an eye toward entering academia. Fellows have completed PhDs at high rates relative to other students, but they are selected for their interest and potential. In this paper we use restricted access data from the Mellon Foundation and the National Science Foundation’s Survey of Earned Doctoratesto investigate the effect of the MMUF on PhD completions by URM students who graduate from participating institutions. We find no evidence that participation in the program causes a statistically significant increase in the numbers of PhDs completed by URM students, and increases greater than about one PhD per institution per cohort lie outside a 95% confidence interval of our estimates. This suggests that at least some of the PhDs completed by participants would have occurred without the program.

Differences in Early Academic Career Outcomes among Humanities and Social Sciences Doctorates by Gender and Family Status. Forthcoming, Review of Higher Education. Also published as Cornell Higher Education Research Institute Working Paper 180 (with Joyce Main and Ronald Ehrenberg). [Working Paper]

Working Papers

Accountability Incentives and the Effects of Special Education [Job Market Paper]

Approximately 13 percent of students in US public schools receive special education services for a wide array of disabilities. Despite the size of the program, little is known about how special education affects students. Placement decisions are in theory based solely on students’ needs, but prior literature suggests that schools alter their special education populations in response to other factors. Recent accountability policies put in place since the enactment of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) in 2002 have presented schools with a new set of incentives to alter the special education population. This paper is the first to investigate these incentives, which are similar to those under current accountability programs. I use administrative data from the universe of North Carolina Public Schools and a difference-in-difference framework in which incentives are determined by the interactions between schools’ expectations about subgroup performance on the one hand and student performance and subgroup membership on the other. I find that schools responded to incentives to change the composition of the SWD subgroup to be higher-performing. Schools also used special education placement to target resources to students who were close to the passing threshold in reading, but not in math. I then use variation in incentives across schools and students as instruments to examine the effect of special education placement on achievement. For students whose special education placement was affected by incentives to select the SWD group to be relatively high-performing in math, special education decreased math scores. My findings suggest that schools can and will manipulate special education placement in the face of NCLB-style incentives and that some students can be hurt by special education placement.

Effects of DI Wait Time on Health and Financial Well-Being [Working Paper]

Do Administrators’ Disciplinary Backgrounds Influence Humanities Departments’ Staffing Patterns? Cornell Higher Education Research Institute Working Paper 168 (with Todd Jones, Cassandra Benson and Ronald Ehrenberg). [Working Paper]

Increasing the Share of Female Faculty within Humanities Departments: Does the Gender of University Leaders Matter? Cornell Higher Education Research Institute Working Paper 170 (with Cassandra Benson, Todd Jones, and Ronald Ehrenberg).  [Working Paper]