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An Ever-Changing Canvas

Like its own Macy Gallery, TC is a perpetual staging ground for cutting-edge work. In this issue: online math stories for kids, a costing-out tool for education policymakers, freedom for a TC song.


Cost-Effectiveness 101

A Tool to Show School Reform ROI


TC’s center for benefit-cost studies of Education (CBCSE) has introduced CostOut, a new online tool to help educators, researchers and policymakers estimate the costs and cost-effectiveness of educational or other social programs.

CostOut is the fruit of a multi-year, federally-funded effort by CBCSE to export the “ingredi­ents method” developed by CBCSE’s Co-Found­er and Director, Henry Levin, William Heard  Kilpatrick Professor of Economics & Education.

Developed under a grant from the federal Institute for Education Sciences, CostOut prompts the user to list all ingredients required to imple­ment an intervention, from teachers to facilities to equipment, and to assign appropriate prices based on the quantity and quality of ingredients needed. The system then calculates the total costs and cost per student of the intervention. With ingredients and effectiveness data on several interventions that aim to improve the same educational outcome, the system can generate cost-effectiveness compari­sons that can inform resource allocation decisions.


CostOut provides adjustments for inflation, geographical location, and, for multi-year programs, the time of investment. It provides a database of some 700 prices of educational resources to help estimate educational program costs. For example, there are 70 different teacher salary levels, culled from publicly available surveys.

An Excel-based prototype of CostOut had been available for the past two years, but users had to download and use it with minimal guid­ance. The online iteration includes a detailed user manual with screen shots and video tutorials that also help users interpret the results of their analyses. Both the prototype and the online tool, which is much more user-friendly, were designed by TC doctoral student Barbara Hanisch-Cerda.

“Increasingly funders, both in the government and in private foundations, are demanding cost estimates of interventions in schools,” says Fiona Hollands, CBCSE Associate Director and Co-Principal Investigator with Levin on the CostOut project. “But most of the estimates they receive are still pretty much back-of-the-envelope. This will make everyone’s life easier.”

CostOut can be accessed at http://www.cbcsecosttoolkit.org/




TC alumnus John King (Ed.D. ’08, M.A. ’97) has been named U.S. Secretary of Education, suc­ceeding Arne Duncan. From 2011 to 2015, as New York’s first black or Puerto Rican education commissioner, King led the Common Core State Standards rollout and championed anti-bullying legislation. He has since served Duncan as senior advisor. n King earned his Ed.D. in Educational/Administration Practice (Organization & Leadership Department) and his M.A. in Social Studies Educa­tion (Arts & Humanities Department). Visit http://bit.ly/1jsCB8F to watch a TC interview with King.


Children’s Stories that Count

TC cognitive developmental psychologist Herbert Ginsburg has teamed with Alice Wilder (Ed.D. ’98), producer of “Blues Clues,” to launch new touch-screen math learning stories through the education technolo­gy start-up Speakaboos, for which Wilder serves as Chief Learning Officer. The project is funded by the Heising-Simons Foundation.


Grammy-Winnng Show & Tell

In march, English teacher Brian Mooney of High Tech High School in North Bergen, New Jersey, blogged about using Kendrick Lamar’s hip-hop album To Pimp a Butterfly to help stu­dents relate to Toni Morrison’s 1970 novel, The Bluest Eye. Mooney was studying Lamar’s album in a TC class on hip hop and education taught by science educator Christopher Emdin.

Mooney’s blog post got 150,000 hits in its first week — including by Lamar, who visited Mooney’s class in early June and then treated the school to a panel discussion with Mooney, Emdin and “street fiction” authority Jamila Scott (Ph.D. ’15).


Supporting New Teachers

More than 40 percent of new public school teachers quit before completing their first five years in the classroom, and the figure is higher in underserved urban areas, where student discipline challenges and lack of administrative support are endemic.

Now the New Teacher Network at TC, or NTN@TC, is providing recent TC graduates with mentoring, practical resources and opportunities to collaborate with TC colleagues.

NTN@TC provides a “meaningful program of support for our graduates who have completed pre-service programs and are moving into their own classrooms as teachers for the first time,” says the pro­gram’s creator Ruth Vinz, Endowed Chair and Morse Professor of Teacher Education.


Using the Research Bully Pulpit


TC faculty present their research to colleagues nationwide

Published research makes an impact research presented via keynote addresses at meetings of the nation’s most esteemed academic professional organizations gets even more visibility. In recent months, three TC faculty members extended their colleagues’ track record of doing just that:

Our “mathematical lives” reflect our multiple identi­ties, our math-related expe­riences in and out of school, and “mathematical spaces” that support or undermine our “positive mathematics socialization,” argued Erica Walker, Professor of Mathematics Education, in her Etta Z. Falconer Lecture at the centennial meeting of the Mathematical Association of America in August. The Falconer Lecturer is chosen for distinguished contributions to mathematical science or education. Falconer, a mathematician and educator, promoted math and science careers for women and minorities. Walker has authored Build­ing Mathematics Learning Communities: Improving Outcomes in Urban HighSchools (Teachers College Press, 2012) and Beyond Banneker: Black Mathematicians and the Paths to Excel­lence (SUNY Press, 2014).



Speaking in May at the annual convention of the Association for Psychological Science (APS), George Bonanno, Professor of Clinical Psychology ,presented evidence that, as he has shown with adults, most children recover quickly from loss or trauma, while fewer expe­rience more difficulty and fewer still do not recover. With doctoral students Zhuoying Zhu and C.L. Burton, he also introduced findings that modulating experience and expression of emotion enhances coping with emotional loss or trauma, and that effec­tive regulation is improved by broader “flexibility” such as ability to read contextual cues or respond to body feedback.

Also at the APS conven­tion, psychologist Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Co-Director of TC’s National Center for Children & Families (NCCF), organized an invited sympo­sium on the national Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. Brooks-Gunn discussed psycholog­ical, contextual, biological and neuroscience findings from a birth cohort of nearly 5,000 children (and their parents) followed through age 15. With NCCF’s Anne Martin, she also presented evidence of a positive relation­ship between young children’s motor control and their development of adap­tive classroom behaviors.

Published Wednesday, Nov 4, 2015

George Bonanno, Professor of Clinical Psychology
Brooks Gunn
Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Co-Director of TC’s National Center for Children & Families (NCCF)
Erica Walker
Erica Walker, Professor of Mathematics Education
Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar