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CALDER 3.0 New Initiatives

Through two five-year funding cycles (CALDER 1.0 and CALDER 2.0) from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), CALDER has produced a large body of research and established the use of longitudinal datasets in education research. This research focused on six policy areas:

    1. Personnel policies and their contribution to effective teacher and student outcomes
    2. The extent to which teacher value-added estimates are correlated with other measures of teacher performance and subsequent student outcomes
    3. The distribution and mobility patterns among teachers and principals
    4. Teacher exit through retirement and layoffs and the links to teacher quality
    5. Improving and transforming low-performing schools
    6. Policies and practices that affect students’ college readiness

CALDER 3.0 expands upon CALDER’s existing work by addressing questions in two additional research areas:

  1. The effects of social welfare policies, housing and neighborhood choice, and criminal justice policies on academic outcomes, labor market earnings, and criminal behavior
  2. The impact of collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) on the level and distribution of human capital and other resources in schools

The focus in policy area 7 reflects the fact that research is becoming less sequestered within narrow field-centric silos (e.g. education, health, criminal justice). Interventions in one field can (and often should by design) impact outcomes in another. The quality of schooling, for instance, should influence the likelihood that students end up interacting with the criminal justice system. Further, coordinated interventions in different fields will likely be more effective in solving education problems. CALDER researchers have demonstrated the potential for cross-field research when previously unlinked data systems can be connected. More opportunities to engage in cross-field work will be possible if benefits of this type of cross-field research are well-articulated.

The argument for policy area 8 is twofold. First, the reauthorization of ESEA in 2016 (the Every Child Succeeds Act) returns a good deal of discretion over teacher evaluation and school accountability to states, and states delegate much of this to the local level, where it is governed (in many places) by CBA provisions. Second, there is increasing policy attention being paid to the role that CBAs play in influencing the human capital and other resources in schools and the consequent implications for students. Indeed there are well-publicized state initiatives that limit the scope of bargaining precisely because of speculation about the political economy of CBA adoption and what it means for school quality. Changes to CBAs potentially have long-term consequences for school operation, human capital, and student achievement; to assess the implications of these changes requires the type of longitudinal data that CALDER specializes in using.

CALDER 3.0 also seeks to expand the influence of CALDER research on policy through the development and expansion of a council of policymakers, called the CALDER Policymaker’s Council. This council will help identify other individuals in order to form a network of state and national policymakers for the purpose of greater networking and dialogue about CALDER research. They will also play an important role in informing the CALDER research agenda so that our research can be more closely aligned to the needs of policymakers.

In addition, the Policymakers Council will aid the development of a CALDER conference that focuses on a specific issue that is central to policymakers (e.g. teacher preparation, school choice, principal effectiveness). The conference will present CALDER research findings, reactions from policymakers, and discussion of pressing policy issues and areas need for additional research. Additionally, councilmembers will work with CALDER researchers to write policy briefs that describe we know about an issue, where readers can go to find more information, and what still needs to be learned to inform decision-making.