Emily Penner

University of California, Irvine
3200 Education, Mail Code: 5500
Irvine, CA 92697

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: University of California, Irvine

NBER Working Papers and Publications

November 2019Teacher Effects on Student Achievement and Height: A Cautionary Tale
with Marianne Bitler, Sean Corcoran, Thurston Domina: w26480
Estimates of teacher “value-added” suggest teachers vary substantially in their ability to promote student learning. Prompted by this finding, many states and school districts have adopted value-added measures as indicators of teacher job performance. In this paper, we conduct a new test of the validity of value-added models. Using administrative student data from New York City, we apply commonly estimated value-added models to an outcome teachers cannot plausibly affect: student height. We find the standard deviation of teacher effects on height is nearly as large as that for math and reading achievement, raising obvious questions about validity. Subsequent analysis finds these “effects” are largely spurious variation (noise), rather than bias resulting from sorting on unobserved factors ...
October 2019My Brother’s Keeper? The Impact of Targeted Educational Supports
with Thomas Dee: w26386
The My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Challenge developed by President Obama supports communities that promote civic initiatives designed to improve the educational and economic opportunities specifically for young men of color. In Oakland, California, the MBK educational initiative features the African American Male Achievement (AAMA) program. The AAMA focuses on regularly scheduled classes exclusively for Black, male students and taught by Black, male teachers who focus on social-emotional training, African-American history, culturally relevant pedagogy, and academic supports. In this study, we present quasi-experimental evidence on the dropout effects of the AAMA by leveraging its staggered scale-up across high schools in the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD). We find that AAMA availabilit...
January 2016The Causal Effects of Cultural Relevance: Evidence from an Ethnic Studies Curriculum
with Thomas Dee: w21865
An extensive theoretical and qualitative literature stresses the promise of instructional practices and content aligned with the cultural experiences of minority students. Ethnic studies courses provide a growing but controversial example of such “culturally relevant pedagogy.” However, the empirical evidence on the effectiveness of these courses is limited. In this study, we estimate the causal effects of an ethnic studies curriculum piloted in several San Francisco high schools. We rely on a “fuzzy” regression discontinuity design based on the fact that several schools assigned students with eighth-grade GPAs below a threshold to take the course in ninth grade. Our results indicate that assignment to this course increased ninth-grade student attendance by 21 percentage points, GPA by 1.4...

Published: Thomas S. Dee & Emily K. Penner, 2017. "The Causal Effects of Cultural Relevance," American Educational Research Journal, vol 54(1), pages 127-166.

August 2013Distributional Effects of a School Voucher Program: Evidence from New York City
with Marianne P. Bitler, Thurston Domina, Hilary W. Hoynes: w19271
We use quantile treatment effects estimation to examine the consequences of a school voucher experiment across the distribution of student achievement. In 1997, the School Choice Scholarship Foundation granted $1,400 private school vouchers to a randomly-selected group of low-income New York City elementary school students. Prior research indicates that this program had no average effect on student achievement. If vouchers boost achievement at one part of the distribution and hurt achievement at another, zero or small mean effects may obscure theoretically important but offsetting program effects. Drawing upon prior research related to Catholic schools and school choice, we derive three hypotheses regarding the program's distributional consequences. Our analyses suggest that the program ha...

Published: Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness Volume 8, Issue 3, 2015 Distributional Analysis in Educational Evaluation: A Case Study from the New York City Voucher Program DOI: 10.1080/19345747.2014.921259 Marianne Bitlera*, Thurston Dominaa, Emily Pennera & Hilary Hoynesb pages 419-450

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