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Aaron M. Pallas

Professional Background

Educational Background

  • B.A., University of Virginia, 1979
  • Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University, 1984 

Scholarly Interests

Aaron Pallas is the Arthur I. Gates Professor of Sociology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. He has also taught at Johns Hopkins University, Michigan State University, and Northwestern University, and served as a statistician at the National Center for Education Statistics in the U.S. Department of Education. Professor Pallas has devoted the bulk of his career to the study of how schools sort students, especially the relationship between school organization and sorting processes and the linkages among schooling, learning and the human life course. He is a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association and an elected member of the Sociological Research Association. His most recent projects are explicitly designed to inform policymakers and other stakeholders about conditions in New York City public schools.

Selected Publications

Pallas, Aaron M. (2002). “Educational participation across the life course:  Do the rich get richer?”  Pp. 327-354 in Timothy Owens and Richard Settersten, Jr. (Eds.), New Frontiers in Socialization:  Advances in Life Course Research, Vol. 7Oxford, UK:  Elsevier Science.

Pallas, Aaron M. (2003). “Educational transitions, trajectories, and pathways.” Pp. 165-184 in Jeylan T. Mortimer and Michael Shanahan (Eds.), Handbook of the Life Course. New York:  Plenum.

Pallas, Aaron M., Matthew Boulay, & Melinda Mechur Karp. (2003). “On what is learned in school:  A Verstehen approach.” Pp. 17-40 In Maureen T. Hallinan, Adam Gamoran, Warren Kubitschek, and Tom Loveless (Eds.), Stability and change in education:  Structure, processes and outcomesNew York:  Percheron Press.

Neumann, Anna, & Aaron M. Pallas. (2006). “Windows of possibility:  Perspectives on the construction of educational researchers.” Pp. 429-449 in Clifton F. Conrad & Ron C. Serlin (Eds.), SAGE Handbook for Research in Education: Engaging Ideas and Enriching Inquiry. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Pallas, Aaron M. (2006). “A subjective approach to schooling and the transition to adulthood.”  Pp. 173-197 in Ross Macmillan (Ed.), Constructing adulthood: Agency and subjectivity in adolescence and adulthood. Advances in Life Course Research Volume 11. Elsevier/JAI.   
Neumann, Anna, Aaron M. Pallas, & Penelope L. Peterson. (2008). “Exploring the investment:  Four universities’ experiences with the Spencer Foundation’s Research Training Grant Program:  A retrospective.”  Teachers College Record  110:1477-1503.


Centers and Projects

Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media

The Hechinger Institute exists to equip journalists with the knowledge and skills they need to produce fair, accurate and insightful reporting. Since its launch in 1996, the institute has sponsored more than 63 seminars for journalists who write, editorialize or edit coverage of education.

More than 1,800 journalists have attended Hechinger Institute seminars, which feature top education experts, including faculty from Teachers College. Held at Teachers College and throughout the U.S., Hechinger seminars are designed to create an intimate, salon-like atmosphere in which all of the participants and presenters are encouraged to participate.

The institute also produces primers and publications on timely topics in education, from covering higher education to understanding teachers unions. The institute maintains a website with resources related to seminar topics along with a blog on early childhood issues. In 2007, the institute is sponsoring "Covering America, Covering Community Colleges" a fellowship designed to encourage and promote in-depth coverage of community colleges for print and broadcast reporters, online and editorial writers.
The Hechinger Institute's director is Richard Lee Colvin, the former lead education writer for the Los Angeles Times who spent much of his career writing about education for newspapers in California. The assistant director is Liz Willen, a former education writer for Newsday and Bloomberg News.

The institute is supported by a variety of private philanthropies, including the John S. and James Knight Foundation, the Broad Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Joyce Foundation, The Ford Foundation, The Wallace Foundation, Harold W. McGraw Jr., chairman emeritus of the McGraw-Hill Companies, the Cotsen Family Foundation, the Lumina Foundation for Education and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It is named in memory of Fred M. Hechinger, a former education editor of the New York Times and a trustee of Teachers College.

Aaron M. Pallas appeared in the following articles:

TC President, 11 Faculty Make 2014 EduScholar Public Influence Rankings (1/9/2014)

Aaron Pallas Offers Mayor de Blasio Some School Advice (1/6/2014 5:36:00 PM)

TC's Aaron Pallas Offers Mayor de Blasio Some School Advice (1/6/2014)

Syracuse Really Has No Highly Effective Teachers? (10/14/2013)

His Assignment: Help Close the Gap (6/27/2013)

Preparing Educators to Think About Health (3/29/2013)

TC's Aaron Pallas Recounts 19 Months of Stonewalling by NYC DOE (2/25/2013)

Aaron Pallas: Teacher Evaluations by Principals Only Are the "Least Reliable" Approach (1/9/2013)

Taking Student Health to Scale (12/7/2012)

Aaron Pallas to President Obama: "Slow the Testing Train Down" (11/15/2012)

Aaron Pallas at CNN's "Schools of Thought": Many Variables Affect Standardized Test Results (8/6/2012)

Aaron Pallas: Meet the "worst" 8th grade math teacher in NYC (5/16/2012)

Assessing Assessments — and Assessment Use (5/15/2012)

Aaron Pallas Tries to Make Sense of NYC's "Pineapple" Test Question (4/24/2012)

International Conference Will Examine Issues of Validity, Educational Assessment, Equity and Accountability (3/14/2012)

Aaron Pallas Discusses Teacher Evaluation on "Democracy Now" (3/2/2012)

Debating the Use
of Test Scores
to Evaluate Teachers

Aaron Pallas: Teacher Evaluations Not Truly "Rigorous" (2/21/2012)

Aaron Pallas Weighs in with NY Times on Teacher Evaluations (2/20/2012)

Aaron Pallas: On Teacher Evaluation, DOE Wants Efficiency, Teachers Want Fairness (2/8/2012)

More Than Half of NYC Middle School Teachers Leave Before Three Years, Study Co-Authored By TC's Pallas Finds (11/7/2011)

Morales and Pallas Are This Year's Brantley Award Winners (10/13/2011)

Christopher Infantry: Channeling Mrs. O'Connell (10/10/2011)

Pallas spars with Joel Klein in the Blogosphere (6/28/2011)

Helping Mexico's Lost Generations (5/15/2011)

TC's Aaron Pallas talks to NBC Nightly News About Teacher Layoffs (2/27/2011)


A Measured Response to Value-Added Measures (1/3/2011)

Rank Disappointment (12/14/2010)


Waiting for Superman Screens at TC (10/13/2010)

TC Faculty: American Education Can't Wait for "Superman" (10/2/2010)

TC Faculty Still "Waiting for Superman" (9/20/2010)

Pallas Speaks With NPR about NYC Education Reforms (9/10/2010)

TC's Aaron Pallas evaluates Race to the Top (8/18/2010)

TC's Aaron Pallas Reacts to Drop in New York Test Scores (7/29/2010)

Front and Center on the National Stage (4/1/2010)

Is There a Good Way to Get Rid of Bad Teachers? (2/25/2010)

Union, Parents Fight Closure of Older NYC Schools (2/15/2010)

Stanford study shows many city charters besting district schools (1/20/2010)

Teachers clash on whether math tests results show progress (1/20/2010)

School Grading Deserves a Poor Grade (11/4/2008)

TC to Work with New Research Alliance to Study Improvement in City Schools (10/30/2008)

Grading Schools in NYC: A Pop Quiz (9/24/2008)

Parents Getting Into the Mix On Improving Public Schools (9/10/2008)

Research Highlights (5/21/2008)

Test your Knowledge of School Grades in New York City (12/12/2007)

What We Know About School Grading (12/10/2007)

The Education Guy (9/4/2007)

In Homework Wars, Student Wins a Battle: More Time to Unwind on Vacation (4/4/2007)

Doing Good Research that Makes an Impact (2/26/2007)

Coming of Age in Japan (10/27/2006)

Coming of Age in Japan (10/3/2006)

Learning Pays Off (4/15/2006)

An Activist in the Classroom - The Making of a Teacher (11/17/2005 3:29:41 PM)

The Long Way Home - The Making of a Teacher (11/17/2005 3:48:17 PM)

Rebell Heads New TC Campaign (10/1/2005)

Students Able To Cash In With School Program (9/27/2005)

In the Reading Zone (9/7/2005)

Makiko Yoshino (11/4/2003)

The President's Grant for Student Research in Diversity Honorable Mention Recipients (9/30/2003)

News and Changes at Teachers College (8/1/2003)

Open Meeting to Discuss Strategic Planning (1/1/2003)

9/11 (8/31/2002)

The Cost to Meet New State Standards Could Reach $3.5 Billion (12/1/2000)

Faculty Adds Thirteen in Fall Semester, Two in Spring (9/1/2000)

School 2001: TC Professor Works on Mega School Reform Project in Mongolia (7/1/2000)

New Jersey Phasing Out Special Education (4/21/2000)

The PDS Partnership Celebrates Charter and Raises Critical Issues (4/1/2000)

Teachers College: A Leader in Educating Leaders (1/1/2000)

Master's Degree Graduates Highlighted for Achievements (6/1/1999)

Deans Office Seeking Applicants for Doctoral Apprenticeships (1/22/1998)