Pallas, Aaron M. (amp155)

Aaron M. Pallas

Arthur I. Gates Professor of Sociology and Education

Office Location:

212A Zankel

Office Hours:

Tuesdays 4-5 pm; Wednesdays 5-6 pm; and by appointment

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 uses a variety of research tools to inform the public about the relevance and usability of educational research for policy and practice. He educates stakeholders—including representatives of the media—about the complexities and unexpected consequences of accountability and resource distribution policies in public schools. His research, taken up by the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and a variety of media reaching local political leaders, policymakers, parents, and voters, illuminates these dynamics across New York City, New York State and beyond.

Pallas’s efforts to strengthen the capacity of research to enhance educational discourse in the public sphere draw on his studies of the linkages between education policy and inequalities in life chances and the role of schooling in the course of human lives. His research has also addressed the sociology of teaching and teachers' work and careers, including teacher accountability systems, undergraduate teaching improvement, and the preparation of education researchers. His current research examines patterns of segregation among and within New York City middle schools.

A former editor of the American Sociological Association journal Sociology of Education, he is a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association and an elected member of the National Academy of Education and of the Sociological Research Association, the preeminent honorary society of sociology scholars. He has also served as Chair of the Sociology of Education and Sociology of Children and Youth sections of the American Sociological Association.

Selected Publications


Aaron M. Pallas
“The sunny home advantage : Class differences in resources to support summer learning”
Pp. 111-130  in Karl L. Alexander, Sarah Pitcock and Matthew Boulay (Eds.), The summer slide: What we know and can do about summer learning loss
New York: Teachers College Press


Aaron M. Pallas
“Schooling, learning, and the life course”
In Robert A. Scott and Stephen Kosslyn (Eds.), Emerging trends in the social and behavioral sciences: An interdisciplinary, searchable and linkable resource
Wiley Online Library


Jennifer L. Jennings and Aaron M. Pallas
“Teacher responses to value-added data”
Educational Leadership, May


Aaron M. Pallas and Anna Neumann
Convergent Teaching: Tools to Spark Deeper Learning in College
Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press


Aaron M. Pallas
"A Sociological Analysis of the Effects of Standards-Based Accountability Policies on the Distribution of Educational Outcomes." Pp. 195-214 in Sotiria Grek, Christian Maroy, and Toni Verger (Eds.), World Yearbook of Education. New York: Routledge.


Aaron M. Pallas
"The Rhetoric of Teacher Evaluation: New York City Teachers' Responses to Performance Labels"
Education Policy

Related Articles

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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.

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.

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Union, Parents Fight Closure of Older NYC Schools

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Syracuse Really Has No Highly Effective Teachers?

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His Assignment: Help Close the Gap

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Preparing Educators to Think About Health

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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.

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."

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."

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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Christopher Infantry: Channeling Mrs. O'Connell

Christopher Infantry: Channeling Mrs. O'Connell

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.

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

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."

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)

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.

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

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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."

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.

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.

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."


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.


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

Morales and Pallas Are This Year's Brantley Award Winners

Morales and Pallas Are This Year's 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.

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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.

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

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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.

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.

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