Pallas, Aaron M. (amp155) | Teachers College Columbia University

Skip to content Skip to main navigation
Teachers College, Columbia University
Printer-friendly Version
Teachers College, Columbia Univeristy Logo
Pallas, Aaron
Arthur I. Gates Professor of Sociology and Education
Education Policy and Social Analysis
212-678-8119

Office:
212A Zankel

Office Hours:
Spring 2016: Monday 7-8 p.m.; Tuesday 4-5 p.m.

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.

 

Courses

Related Articles

News and Changes at Teachers College

Since its inception, Teachers College has served the needs of urban and suburban schools, in this country and abroad, with a commitment to disavantaged children and urban schools. While the conditions facing eduators today are more challenging than ever, the College remains faithful to its mission.

/media-center/highlights/news-and-changes-at-teachers-college/

The Education Guy

Matthew Pittinsky has founded a billion-dollar company, but his heart is in the classroom.

/media-center/highlights/the-education-guy/

An Activist in the Classroom - The Making of a Teacher

Four years ago, Chandra Williams, 28, was teaching at R.H. Terrell Junior High, an inner-city public school in Washington D.C., when she overheard some of her eighth-grade students discussing their future. Their perceptions of the world were frightening. Having a baby wasn't expensive; you could rent an apartment for two dollars a month; college was unnecessary.

/media-center/highlights/an-activist-in-the-classroom---the-making-of-a-teacher/

School 2001: TC Professor Works on Mega School Reform Project in Mongolia

Led by Professor Gita Steiner-Khamsi, several Teachers College faculty members and doctoral students have been working in Mongolia to moderate five national one-week workshops, suggest ways to revise teaching strategies, design curriculum, initiate cooperative learning, and to look at compatible assessment and testing methods.

/media-center/highlights/school-2001-tc-professor-works-on-mega-school-reform-project-in-mongolia/

The Long Way Home - The Making of a Teacher

It's Tuesday night, April 26th. Carley Fisher-Maltese has been wearing the same clothes since Sunday. Somewhere along the way, she planned to go back to New Jersey to her house, her husband and five pets. Instead, with her second semester as a Curriculum and Teaching student at Teachers College drawing to a close, she's scrambling to finish her last project. She and four other students are completing a two-year social studies curriculum for their core class. Amid the detritus of a hard night's work - snacks, juice, a pillow and blanket - they talk animatedly about their project.

/media-center/highlights/the-long-way-home---the-making-of-a-teacher/

The PDS Partnership Celebrates Charter and Raises Critical Issues

On a cold morning last month, approximately 75 members of the Greater Council of the Teachers College Professional Development School (PDS) Partnership met at TC for a day of work sessions.

/media-center/highlights/the-pds-partnership-celebrates-charter-and-raises-critical-issues/

Rebell Heads New TC Campaign

Public education advocate Michael Rebell was appointed head of a Teachers College campaign created to bring education research out of the ivory tower and into the cityóó-'ó-'ós public schools.

/media-center/highlights/rebell-heads-new-tc-campaign/

Stanford study shows many city charters besting district schools

Students in nearly 50 charter schools across the city are outperforming their peers in district schools on state tests, according to a study by an education research group at Stanford University.

/articles/2010/january/stanford-study-shows-many-city-charters-besting-district-sch/

Teachers clash on whether math tests results show progress

The wide gap between results on the national tests and state exams gave more ammunition to critics who argue the state tests have become much easier.

/articles/2010/january/teachers-clash-on-whether-math-tests-results-show-progress/

Union, Parents Fight Closure of Older NYC Schools

Aaron Pallas "the school system "hasn't been very transparent about where the weakest students from the closed schools end up."

/articles/2010/february/union-parents-fight-closure-of-older-nyc-schools/

Aaron Pallas Offers Mayor de Blasio Some School Advice

On WNYC's SchoolBook blog, Aaron Pallas offers five cost-conscious tips for improving NYC schools.

/articles/2014/january/aaron-pallas-offers-mayor-de-blasio-some-school-advice/

TC's Aaron Pallas Offers Mayor de Blasio Some School Advice

On WNYC's SchoolBook blog, Pallas offers five-cost conscious tips for improving NYC schools.

/articles/2014/january/tcs-aaron-pallas-offers-mayor-de-blasio-some-school-advice/

Syracuse Really Has No Highly Effective Teachers?

In this op-ed, which originally appeared on The Hechinger Report, Aaron Pallas writes that NY State rated Syracuse teachers "on a wildly inappropriate metric."

/articles/2013/october/syracuse-really-has-no-highly-effective-teachers/

His Assignment: Help Close the Gap

Alumni Focus: David Johns (M.A. '06) has spent his life thinking about how to improve educational outcomes for African Americans. Now that's his job -- at the White House.

/articles/2013/june/his-assignment-help-close-the-gap/

Preparing Educators to Think About Health

In this year's Tisch lecture, Howell Wechsler calls on TC and other schools of education to embrace health as part of their mission

/articles/2013/march/preparing-educators-to-think-about-health/

TC's Aaron Pallas Recounts 19 Months of Stonewalling by NYC DOE

In his blog, "A Sociological Eye on Education," Professor Pallas recounts his long stall by the city's Department of Education in filling his request for information on national test preparation.

/articles/2013/february/tcs-aaron-pallas-recounts-19-months-of-stonewalling-by-nyc-/

Aaron Pallas: Teacher Evaluations by Principals Only Are the "Least Reliable" Approach

Commenting on a Gates Foundation study showing that effective teaching can be measured, the Professor of Sociology and Education says it's unclear how any formula will work in "high-stakes conditions."

/articles/2013/january/aaron-pallas-teacher-evaluations-by-principals-only-are-the/

Aaron Pallas to President Obama: "Slow the Testing Train Down"

In the first installment of opinion pieces that give education advice to President Obama in his second term, Pallas writes that Race to the Top, Obama's signature education program, promoted "unproven policies."

/articles/2012/november/aaron-pallas-to-president-obama--slow-the-testing-train-do/

Aaron Pallas at CNN's "Schools of Thought": Many Variables Affect Standardized Test Results

One-year changes in test scores are not a "referendum" on education policies or initiatives, Pallas writes.

/articles/2012/august/aaron-pallas-at-cnns-schools-of-thought--many-variables-/

Aaron Pallas: Meet the "worst" 8th grade math teacher in NYC

Pallas's blog, the Sociological Eye on Education, profiles a very successful teacher who was rated by a value-added model "the worst eighth-grade math teacher in New York City."

/articles/2012/may/aaron-pallas-meet-the-worst-8th-grade-math-teacher-in-nyc/

Aaron Pallas Tries to Make Sense of NYC's "Pineapple" Test Question

In the Hechinger Report, the Professor of Sociology and Education pens a send-up of proposal to use "value-added" assessments in higher education.

/articles/2012/april/aaron-pallas-tries-to-make-sense-of-nycs-pineapple-test-q/

Aaron Pallas Discusses Teacher Evaluation on "Democracy Now"

Aaron Pallas, Professor of Sociology and Education, appeared recently on the program "Democracy Now" as part of a segment on school privatization and teacher evaluation.

/articles/2012/march/aaron-pallas-discusses-teacher-evaluation-on-democracy-now/

Aaron Pallas: Teacher Evaluations Not Truly "Rigorous"

Posted first on The Hechinger Report website, the Professor of Sociology and Education writes that in today's parlance, teacher evaluations are incorrectly seen as "rigorous" if they rate teachers as ineffective.

/articles/2012/february/aaron-pallas-teacher-evaluations-not-truly-rigorous/

Aaron Pallas Weighs in with NY Times on Teacher Evaluations

The Professor of Sociology and Education told Winnie Hu at the Times that using independent observers in teacher evaluations "has the potential to address" teachers' concerns about fairness.

/articles/2012/february/aaron-pallas-weighs-in-with-ny-times-on-teacher-evaluations/

Aaron Pallas: On Teacher Evaluation, DOE Wants Efficiency, Teachers Want Fairness

But those values collide head-on in New York State education law, the Professor of Sociology and Education and frequent blogger writes on GothamSchools.

/articles/2012/february/aaron-pallas-on-teacher-evaluation-doe-wants-efficiency-t/

More Than Half of NYC Middle School Teachers Leave Before Three Years, Study Co-Authored By TC's Pallas Finds

The study, co-authored with Will Marinell, was presented at the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management's fall meeting.

/articles/2011/november/more-than-half-of-nyc-middle-school-teachers-leave-before-th/

Christopher Infantry: Channeling Mrs. O'Connell

Christopher Infantry: Channeling Mrs. O'Connell

/articles/2011/october/christopher-infantry-channeling-mrs-oconnell/

Pallas spars with Joel Klein in the Blogosphere

TC's Aaron Pallas has recently engaged in a series of online exchanges with Joel Klein, the former chancellor of New York City public schools who currently runs New Corp.'s new education division, about Klein's record as schools chief.

/articles/2011/june/pallas-spars-with-joel-klein-in-the-blogosphere/

Helping Mexico's Lost Generations

Mexican immigrant teens are often trapped in dead-end jobs without hope for education. Doctoral graduate Isabel Martinez has explored ways to help

/articles/2011/may/helping-mexicos-lost-generations/

TC's Aaron Pallas talks to NBC Nightly News About Teacher Layoffs

Pallas said, "Schools are the last bastion of a kind of social order... to have them subjected to this kind of upheaval, cannot be good for kids."

/articles/2011/february/tcs-aaron-pallas-talks-to-nbc-nightly-news-about-teacher-la/

A Measured Response to Value-Added Measures

As early as today, the courts could potentially authorize the public release of the Teacher Data Reports for 12,000 New York City elementary and middle school teachers. Writing in the Daily News, TC's Aaron Pallas cautions that value-added measures, in conjunction with other measures of teachers' skills and abilities, shed useful light on a teacher's performance. Taken in isolation, however, these measures fall far short of telling us all that we want to know. (NY Daily News)

/articles/2011/january/a-measured-response-to-value-added-measures/

Rank Disappointment

The unimpressive showing by the United States on a global comparison of academic achievement among 15-year-olds is a wake-up call -- but the nation should adapt rather than adopt the approaches of competitors.

/articles/2010/december/rank-disappointment/

<i>Waiting for Superman</i> Screens at TC

A panel of TC faculty responds to a controversial documentary about dysfunctional American schools by Davis Guggenheim

/articles/2010/october/waiting-for-superman-screens-at-tc/

TC Faculty: American Education Can't Wait for "Superman"

A panel of TC faculty members react to director Davis Guggenheim's Waiting for "Superman"

/articles/2010/october/tc--faculty-american-education-cant-wait-for-superman/

TC Faculty Still "Waiting for Superman"

TC screened "Waiting for Superman," the controversial new documentary about five families trying to get their children into charter schools. A panel of TC faculty discussed the film in the Cowin Center auditorium.

/articles/2010/september/tc-faculty-still-waiting-for-superman/

Pallas Speaks With NPR about NYC Education Reforms

In a National Public Radio story, Aaron Pallas says the city's gains on test results are "far less than what actually we now know to have happened."

/articles/2010/september/pallas-speaks-with-npr-about-nyc-education-reforms/

TC's Aaron Pallas evaluates Race to the Top

The Professor of Sociology and Education spoke with the "Marketplace" show on NPR and with BronxTalk, a cable TV show from the Bronx.

/articles/2010/august/tcs-aaron-pallas-evaluates-race-to-the-top/

TC's Aaron Pallas Reacts to Drop in New York Test Scores

Pallas, Professor of Sociology and Education, was interviewed by ABC Channel 7 and New York 1, and wrote an opinion piece for the New York Daily News website, about the disappointing state standardized test results.

/articles/2010/july/tcs-aaron-pallas-reacts-to-drop-in-new-york-test-scores/

Is There a Good Way to Get Rid of Bad Teachers?

TC's Aaron Pallas is one of several commentators weighing in on this subject on the New York Times' online editorial forum, "Room for Debate."

/articles/2010/february/is-there-a-good-way-to-get-rid-of-bad-teachers/

FACULTY AVAILABLE TO COMMENT ON NYC RELEASE OF TEACHER RATINGS

Assistant Professor Douglas Ready, and professors Jeffrey Henig and Aaron Pallas, experts in testing and accountability measures, are available to discuss the planned release of teacher evaluation data by the New York City Department of Education.

/articles/2010/october/faculty-available-to-comment-on-nyc-release-of-teacher-ratin/

TEACHERS COLLEGE CREATES EDUCATION POLICY DEPARTMENT

The new department will centralize the College's interdisciplinary policy work and bring together some of the nation's leading experts.

/articles/2011/january/teachers-college-creates-education-policy-department/

Morales and Pallas Are This Year's Brantley Award Winners

Morales and Pallas Are This Year's Brantley Award Winners

/articles/2011/october/morales-and-pallas-are-this-years-brantley-award-winners/

Debating the Use <br>of Test Scores <br>to Evaluate Teachers

Last week, New York City released performance ratings for 18,000 teachers based on student test scores, following a ruling the state's highest court the information could be made public.

/articles/2012/february/debating-the-use-of-test-scores-to-evaluate-teachers/

International Conference Will Examine Issues of Validity, Educational Assessment, Equity and Accountability

International stakeholders will gather for a conference and institute, from March 28 through March 31, to discuss how standardized tests and other assessments are constructed, what they measure, and whether the results are appropriately used.

/articles/2012/march/international-conference-will-examine-issues-of-validity-ed/

Assessing Assessments — and Assessment Use

Experts from around the world gathered at TC in March to debate whether standardized tests are used in fair and valid ways

/articles/2012/may/assessing-assessments-8212-and-assessment-use/

Taking Student Health to Scale

Last year, when Colorado began offering a new public school program that enables kids to grab breakfast off a lobby cart and chow down during their first-period classes, some teachers and administrators raised concerns.

/articles/2012/december/taking-student-health-to-scale/

TC President, 11 Faculty Make 2014 EduScholar Public Influence Rankings

Rankings by Rick Hess, education blogger for the American Enterprise Institute, include President Susan Fuhrman and Thomas Bailey, Jeff Henig, Luis Huerta, Sharon Lynn Kagan, Hank Levin, Ernest Morrell, Aaron Pallas, Michael Rebell, Judith Scott-Clayton, Amy Stuart Wells and Penny Wohlstetter. Hess annually ranks university scholars by their contributions to public debates about education.

/articles/2014/january/tc-president-11-faculty-make-2014-eduscholar-public-influen/