Work in Progress

Teacher Quality in Higher Education (with Jacob Light and Anthony Yim)

The Importance of Non-Major Courses in Predicting College Students' Post-Graduation Outcomes (with Jacob Light)

Performance-Based Funding and Grading Standards in Higher Education

Working Papers

The Distributional and Long-Term Effects of Grade Inflation (with Jeff Denning, Rachel Nesbit, and Nolan Pope) 

Teachers have discretion over how they map student achievement into grades, and their leniency in doing so may positively or negatively impact student achievement. In this paper we construct two measures of grading leniency: "mean grade inflation" which measures how much higher grades are than would be expected, and "passing grade inflation" which measures leniency in receiving a passing grade. We show that these measures represent related but distinct grading practices of teachers. Grading leniency is not very correlated with other well-established teacher characteristics such as test score and non-cognitive value-added, which suggests that teachers may face tradeoffs in classroom practices. We show that more lenient teachers reduce performance on tests in subsequent years, and that leniency also has persistent effects, decreasing some students' likelihood of taking the SAT and graduating. However, while mean grade inflation negatively affects outcomes, we find that passing grade inflation is positively associated with grade progression, especially for lower-performing students.


A Design-Based Perspective on Synthetic Control Methods (with Lea Bottmer, Guido Imbens, and Jann Spiess), Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, 2023 (alt link)

Why Have College Completion Rates Increased? (with Jeff Denning, Eric Eide, Kevin Mumford, and Rich Patterson), AEJ: Applied, 2023