The Journal of Policy Analysis and Management (JPAM) is pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Raymond Vernon Memorial Award: Daphna Bassok of The University of Virginia, Thomas S. Dee of Stanford University, and Scott Latham of Princeton University for their paper: The Effects of Accountability Incentives in Early Childhood Education The paper was first published in the Fall 2019 Issue, Volume 38, Issue 4 of JPAM
In light of the strong evidence that high-quality early child education (ECE) programs have the potential to narrow achievement gaps and improve children’s life trajectories, policymakers have increasingly focused their efforts on improving the quality of ECE programs at scale. A central component of these efforts has been a policy innovation called Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) that has been adopted by nearly all U.S. states. QRIS are accountability systems that seek to drive, at scale, improvements in ECE quality. Despite their emergence as one of the most important and widely used policy lever, there had been no investigation of the impact of QRIS on quality and performance measures of ECE programs. Bassok, Dee, and Latham (2019) provide the first empirical evidence on the impact of these programs using data from North Carolina, a state with a mature QRIS. In a regression discontinuity design, the authors examine how assignment to a lower quality rating influenced subsequent outcomes of ECE programs. They find that programs responded to a lower quality rating with comparative performance gains, including improvement on a multi-faceted measure of classroom quality. Programs assigned to a lower star rating also experienced enrollment declines, which is consistent with the hypothesis that parents responded to information about program quality by selectively enrolling away from programs with lower ratings. These effects were concentrated among programs that faced higher levels of competition from nearby providers. Taken together, this study provides the first causally credible evidence on the key incentive mechanisms by which QRIS is expected to improve the quality of early childhood programs
Daphna Bassok is an Associate Professor of Education and Public Policy at the University of Virginia and is also the Associate Director of EdPolicyWorks, a joint collaboration between the Curry School of Education and the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. Her research addresses early childhood education policy, with a particular focus on the impacts of policy interventions on the well-being of low-income children. Bassok holds a Ph.D. in the Economics of Education, a M.A. in Economics and a M.A. in Policy Analysis and Evaluation, all from Stanford University.
Thomas Dee is the Barnett Family Professor of Education at Stanford University, where he also directs the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities. His research is focused around Economics and Education, Educational Policy, Poverty and Inequality and Technology and Education. Dee holds a Ph.D. and an M.A. in Economics from the University of Maryland, and a B.A. in Economics with the Concentration in Public Policy, from Swarthmore College.
Scott Latham is Associate Research Scholar, Education Research Section (ERS) at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs. His research is focused on issues of racial/ethnic and socioeconomic inequality, and particularly in issues of quality and access in the early childhood setting. Latham holds a Ph.D. in Education Policy and a Master of Public Policy, both from the University of Virginia, and a B.A. in Psychology from Lafayette College.
The Vernon Memorial Award, created by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) in 1985, seeks to annually recognize excellence in research through the selection of a paper published in the current volume of JPAM. This year’s selection committee was comprised of Tom Dee (Stanford) (chair) along with Stephen Bell (Westat), Sanya Carley (Indiana), and Laura Wherry (UCLA). Tom Dee is a co-author in the paper that won the award, but he excused himself from rating of his paper.
The 2019 Raymond Vernon Memorial Award will be presented at the Membership Breakfast on Friday, November 8, during the 2019 APPAM Fall Research Conference in Denver. A list of previous winners, and more information about this award, can be found here.