Research News

Vanderbilt education faculty’s research featured at AERA April 3-7

Peabody's Wyatt Center (Vanderbilt)

The latest research on key education issues will be presented by faculty from Vanderbilt Peabody College of education and human development at the American Educational Research Association’s annual meeting in Philadelphia April 3-7, 2014. The theme of this year’s AERA conference is “The Power of Education Research for Innovation in Practice and Policy.”

Peabody professors will address in their sessions principal effectiveness and evaluations; teacher evaluations; philanthropy and education research; universal pre-school; race and gifted education; at-risk learners; poverty and child outcomes; school surveillance and security; school vouchers, and much more.

To see abstracts from all Peabody researchers presenting at AERA, go to and search the conference program for “Vanderbilt.”

Schedule is subject to change. Refer to printed program provided at the conference; sessions are Eastern Daylight Time.

Featured sessions highlighting Peabody research include:

The Politics and Research Around Principal Effectiveness and Principal Performance Evaluation
Ellen B. Goldring, Jason A. Grissom
Principal effectiveness and evaluation are emerging on the forefront of legislation and policy debates. Spawned by federal Race to the Top grants and the School Improvement Grants program authorized under Title I of the ESEA, state legislatures and districts are mandating that student growth and achievement must be part of principal performance evaluation. Major professional associations, such as the National Association of Secondary School Principals and major reform networks, such as New Leaders, have released blueprints for principal evaluation. These blueprints call for using multiple measures and various data sources, including measures of principal practice that rely on rubrics, surveys and observations from multiple stakeholders. However, the empirical research regarding the validity, feasibility and utility of these approaches is not well developed.
April 4, 2:15 to 3:45 p.m.
Convention Center, 100 Level, 119A

Teacher Evaluation Systems: Taking Stock of Their Impacts and Challenges
Ellen B. Goldring
Increased efforts to hold teachers accountable for their performance via statistical estimates of their impact on student achievement and redesigned observation and evaluation systems have been among the most important education policy shifts of the last decade. Despite the controversy surrounding these systems and the fact that researchers and practitioners are only beginning to understand the changes—positive and negative—these systems are creating, we see continued expansion not only of the data-gathering and evaluation systems themselves but of the use of those systems to promote accountability in other domains, such as teacher preparation. The goal of this session is take stock of what we know about the impacts and challenges of data-intensive accountability systems in some key educational areas. Researchers and policymakers will discuss how these systems are affecting teachers, leaders, and schools; identify what is known and unknown in these areas; highlight what we can and cannot learn from teacher evaluation systems; and make recommendations for states and districts moving forward with such systems.
April 4, 8:15 to 9:45 a.m.
Convention Center, 200 Level, 201A

Value-Added Meets the Schools: The Effects of Using Test-Based Teacher Evaluation on the Work of Teachers and Leaders
Ellen B. Goldring, Jason A. Grissom, Marisa A. Cannata, Timothy Drake, Patrick Schuermann
Rapid expansion in the use of value-added measures for teacher accountability could potentially have far-reaching effects. While much has been written about the statistical properties of value-added measures, we know much less about their effects on teaching and learning. Three presentations will address a number of critical issues: What effects might value-added have on the teacher workforce? How are state and district leaders interpreting and using these methodologies for decision making? How are teachers making sense of the new evaluation systems, and how is it affecting the way they teach? The Symposium will provide initial insights into this dramatic experiment and the impacts on the key actors and components in the system. It will also help develop a future research agenda to explore the policies now being implemented across the country. The papers are part of a group of studies to be published in a special issue of Educational Researcher.
April 7, 10:35 a.m. to 12:05 p.m.
Convention Center, 100 Level, 113A

Changes in the Relationship Between Philanthropy and Education Research
Ellen B. Goldring
Despite the contraction of federal funds and the current involvement of very large foundations, private dollars comprise a relatively modest share of all funds spent on education research. How do foundation leaders view their opportunities to promote high-quality research? What do they see as their responsibilities to pursue a focused agenda, versus allowing research topics to emerge from the field? How have foundation activities changed in response to the shifting landscape of education research? This panel discussion will foster a dialogue between foundation leaders and education researchers. Four speakers will respond to guiding questions from the moderator, and audience members will be invited to comment and pose further questions.
April 7, 12:25 p.m. to 1:55 p.m.
Convention Center, 100 Level – 119A

Universal Preschool: What Have We Learned, and What Does It Mean for Practice and Policy?
Dale C. Farran, Kerry Guess Hofer
Scholars, practitioners, and policymakers from many disciplinary backgrounds and political persuasions point to the promise of preschool. Economists and developmental scientists, for example, highlight the ways in which early interventions cascade into numerous long-term payoffs, and identify positive benefit-to-cost ratios from classic preschool interventions. Educators recognize how reducing school readiness gaps can better position schools to teach all students, especially important in an era of accountability. In this session, several prominent scholars will share new research; and, a leading federal policymaker will discuss the findings’ relevance, including what they mean as the Obama administration proposes greater investments in state pre-k at the same time that states—facing budget constraints—are asking whether recent expansions have paid off.
April 6, 12:25 to 1:55 p.m.
Convention Center, Terrace Level, Terrace I

Additional Peabody Education research featured, among others:

School Voucher Policy and Implementation: Lessons From Ind. and Tenn.
Claire E. Smrekar
April 3, 2:15 to 3:45 p.m.
Convention Center, 100 Level, 107B

Acceleration and Underachievement in Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent
David Lubinski, Camilla P. Benbow
April 4, 10:35 a.m. to 12:05 p.m.
Convention Center, 100 Level, 107B

Determining Academic Profiles and Characteristics of At-Risk Learners
Douglas Fuchs, Lynn Fuchs, Jennifer Gilbert
April 4, 12:25 to 1:55 p.m.
Convention Center, 100 Level, 103B

Race, Masculinity, and the Pursuit of Academic Excellence: Educating Gifted Black Males
Donna Y. Ford
April 4, 2:15 to 3:45 p.m.
Convention Center, 100 Level, 107B

Hispanic Higher Education: What Does the Future Hold?
Stella M. Flores
April 5, 8:15 to 9:45 a.m.
Convention Center, 100 Level, 105B

Poverty, Early Social Supports, and Child Outcomes
Mimi Engel
April 5, 8:15 to 10:15 a.m.
Convention Center, 100 Level, 102B

School Security and Surveillance: Patterns and Impacts
Emily Tanner-Smith, Mark W. Lipsey
April 5, 2:45 to 4:15 p.m.
Marriott, Fourth Level, Franklin 13

Speaking Up and Reaching Out: Personal and Social Factors Related to Student Outcomes
Andrew J. Finch, Emily Tanner-Smith, Holly Wegman
April 6, 4:05 to 5:35 p.m. Convention Center, 100 Level, 103B