Informing Education: The School Effectiveness & Inequality Initiative puts facts at the forefront of policy debate”

MIT Spectrum; June 1, 2016

Get good grades, attend a well-regard­ed school, land a fruit­ful job—this tra­jec­to­ry is a fun­da­men­tal tenet of the American dream. Schooling often deter­mines future earn­ing poten­tial and eco­nom­ic mobil­i­ty. Yet edu­ca­tion­al choic­es are often fraught with con­fu­sion and uncer­tain­ty for stu­dents and par­ents, and for the pol­i­cy mak­ers who must make dif­fi­cult deci­sions about con­tro­ver­sial poli­cies and scarce edu­ca­tion resources. Are char­ter schools always a ben­e­fi­cial choice? Do vouch­ers pro­vide more oppor­tu­ni­ty? What about expen­sive scholarships—do they real­ly boost out­comes for stu­dents in need?


MIT’s School Effectiveness & Inequality Initiative (SEII), based with­in the Department of Economics, uses rig­or­ous exper­i­men­tal and qua­si-exper­i­men­tal meth­ods to exam­ine how edu­ca­tion and eco­nom­ics are linked. SEII is helmed by fac­ul­ty co-direc­tors Joshua Angrist, David Autor, and Parag Pathak and is backed by more than 25 affil­i­at­ed fac­ul­ty, post­docs, and grad­u­ate students.