GWIPP Research: Education Policy

Title: Improving Labor Markets through Voluntary Standards for Describing Credentials

Funding: Lumina Foundation

Researcher(s): Stephen Crawford

Start Date: August 2013

Category: Education Policy

Status: Current

Summary: The George Washington Institute of Public Policy at George Washington University has received a grant of $369,000 from Lumina Foundation to fund a project on standards for describing labor market credentials. The project will study how the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) could coordinate standards and conformity assessment systems to improve transparency and trust in the credentialing marketplace in the United States. It will address the full spectrum of credentials, including postsecondary degrees, certificates, industry and professional certifications, badges, and other documents that attest to what people know and/or are able to do.

The last decade has seen rapid growth in the number and variety of labor market credentials. Uncertainty about their quality and value and how they relate to each other is causing serious confusion in the labor market ─ driving up costs for employers, job seekers and public funders, and exacerbating skill shortages. These problems derive largely from the lack of public-private standards necessary to support transparency and trust in the credentialing marketplace. “Widely accepted standards would provide a common framework and language for describing key aspects of credentials, including competencies, assessments, scopes of application, relationships with other credentials, and market value,” notes Dr. Stephen Crawford, the project director and a Research Professor at GWIPP.

The project will bring together key stakeholders from business, education, and government to assess the standardization landscape, create a credentialing “roadmap” (including a compendium of information resources on credentialing standards), and develop a conceptual framework and reference model. The roadmap will identify what standards are available or under development, what gaps exist, and what activities are needed to advance the quality and transparency of the credentialing process in the U.S. The project will also explore whether and how the envisioned ANSI standards collaborative could establish the foundation for a more open and comprehensive public-private data infrastructure – one that provides semantic interoperability in ways that enable open data initiatives and promote an open applications marketplace.

A major feature of this project is GWIPP’s contractual partnership with ANSI. A non-profit organization, ANSI is the coordinator of the voluntary standardization and conformity assessment systems in the United States. It facilitates the development of standards by accrediting standards-developing organizations. It also accredits conformity-assessment organizations to determine the fulfillment of standards requirements. ANSI already is very active in workforce credentialing, especially as an accreditor of certificate programs and personnel certification bodies. The project leadership includes Dr. Roy Swift, ANSI’s Senior Director for Personnel Credentialing & Accreditation, and Dr. Robert Sheets, Senior Director of Research at Business Innovation Services, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Title: Private Two-Year Colleges and Their Students: Pathways, Returns, and Policy

Funding: Ford Foundation

Researcher(s): Stephanie Cellini

Start Date: March 2009

Status: Current

Category: Education Policy


Title: The Cumulative Effect of the PreK-3rd Education Experience on English Language Learners   

Funding: Foundation for Child Development

Researcher(s): Dylan Conger

Start Date: November 2008

Status: Current

Category: Social Policy, Education Policy

Summary: The primary goal of this study is to understand how the cumulative primary school experience influences the academic proficiency of English Language Learners (ELL) in the Miami-Dade County Public School System.  By primary school experience, we refer to the amount and type of services that students receive in the PreK-8th grades from the public school system, including their grade upon entry into the system (with specific attention to the PreK and K entry points); the characteristics of the schools, teachers, and peers to which they are exposed; and the types of English language instruction services they receive.

Title: Developing a Semiotic Framework for How People Learn Science Across Contexts

Funding: SRI International

Researcher(s): Joel Kuipers

Start Date: September 2008

Status: Current

Category: Education Policy

Summary: Recent results from standardized assessments indicate that science is one of the most challenging subjects for students and that American students are falling behind their peers in other developed nations (National Assessment of Educational Progress, 2005; National Center for Education Statistics, 2000; Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, 2007).  Moreover, these reports indicate that American students’ achievement in science has not improved in the last three decades. 

While achievement scores provide an indication of students’ overall understanding of science, we have less detailed information about student learning science in and across formal and informal settings (but cf. Linn, Bell, & Hsi, 1998).  We adopt an ethnographic perspective that treats the process of learning as distinct from individual moments of cognition, taking place within and across many events, and over time (Wortham, 2006).  Yet the question remains how may one document empirically students’ learning behaviors over time?  How can one capture and analyze the vast amount of data needed to examine a phenomenon that takes place both within and across time scales?  It is with these questions in mind that this project was designed.  It proposes development of a theoretical framework for analyzing learning behaviors within and across contexts, as well as a technical toolbox for handling the amount of data needed to examine student learning over time. 

Title: The Implications of High School Course Availability and Course-Taking for Achievement, Graduation, and Post-secondary Enrollment

Funding: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences

Researcher(s): Dylan Conger, Patrice Iatarola (Florida State University), and Mark Long (University of Washington)

Start Date: July 2007

Status: Current

Category: Education Policy

Summary: Responding to increases in the demand for skilled labor, persistent racial and income gaps in academic outcomes, and the higher relative performance of secondary students from other developed countries, U.S. policymakers and educators have turned their attention, once again, towards high school curriculum.  To inform this effort, our study identifies the determinants of course-offerings across schools and course-taking within schools, and the effects of course-taking on outcomes at multiple stages of the students' high school and post-secondary careers.  We seek primarily to estimate: 1) the share of socioeconomic and demographic disparities in course-taking that can be attributed to variation across schools in their course offerings versus variation in course-taking among students within schools; and 2) the share of socioeconomic and demographic disparities in 10th grade test scores, four-year graduation rates, and enrollment rates in post-secondary institutions that can be attributed to differential returns to course-taking, differential course-taking within schools, and differential course offerings across schools.  The research relies on administrative data from the Florida Department of Education on the census of 8th through 12th grade public school students (and their schools) from 1998 to 2005.

Title: School Finance Referenda and Housing Values

Funding: National Center for Real Estate Research

Researcher(s): Garry Young

Start Date: January 2007

Status: Current

Category: Education Policy, Economic and Industrial Development Policy

Summary: Housing values are influenced by a variety of factors. There is substantial and well-established literature that suggests that housing and property values are a function of the physical characteristics of the house and the land on which it sits, proximity to amenities and disamenities, the level and quality of local government services provided, and the level of property taxes collected to pay for these services. Within the context of government service provision and financing, local school quality and cost play a particularly important role in affecting house prices.

A critical component to educational finance in the United States is the requirement that school-related financial arrangements must receive direct voter approval in most school districts. The referendum requirement applies most commonly to the sale of bonds for capital improvements, but extends well beyond bond issues. The results of school referenda have major consequences for housing values in school districts, since both taxes and school quality are substantially capitalized into property values. Yet, we know little about the outcomes and outcome trends of school finance referenda and we have little systematic evidence about the relationship between these referenda outcomes and housing values. The purpose of this project is to gather data on school finance referenda across the states going back to 1995 and then study the relationship between referenda outcomes and housing values.