Research Presentation by Christine Mulhern: Beyond Teachers: Estimating Individual Guidance Counselors' Effects on Educational Attainment

Event Information

  • Starts: 11:30 am on Tuesday, January 28, 2020
  • Ends: 1:00 pm on Tuesday, January 28, 2020
Abstract: Guidance counselors are a common school resource for students navigating complicated and consequential education choices. Christine Mulhern provides the first causal estimates of individual counselors' effects on high schoolers, using quasi-random counselor assignment policies in Massachusetts. She finds that counselors vary substantially in their effectiveness at increasing students' high school graduation rates and college attendance, selectivity and persistence. Counselor effects on educational attainment are similar in magnitude to teachers' effects, but they flow through improved information and direct assistance, rather than through improved cognitive or non-cognitive skills. Counselor effectiveness is most important for low-achieving and low-income students, perhaps because these students are most likely to lack other sources of information and assistance. Good counselors tend to improve all measures of educational attainment but some specialize in improving high school behavior while others specialize in increasing selective college attendance. Improving access to effective counseling may be a promising way to increase educational attainment and close socioeconomic gaps in education.

About Christine Mulhern: Christine Mulhern is a PhD Candidate in Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. Her research focuses on understanding how school resources, social networks and technology influence student success in high school and postsecondary education. She has research which documents the effects of school counselors, siblings, and the guidance technology Naviance on educational attainment. She has also studied online learning technologies in higher education.

Location:
Rm 423, 2 Silber Way

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