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Seth Gershenson Wins Award for Best Research Article

Seth Gershenson, center, accepts the award for Best Research Article.

SPA Associate Professor Seth Gershenson was recognized by the editors of the Journal of Education, Finance and Policy as the author of the best article published in 2016, at the 42nd Annual Conference of the Association for Education Finance and Policy (AEFP).

Gershenson received the Thomas A. Downs Award in recognition for his paper “Linking Teacher Quality, Student Attendance, and Student Achievement.” This was the first year the award was given, named for the journal’s founding editor.

“I was lucky and honored to be chosen,” said Gershenson.

Gershenson’s research found that teachers can have an impact on student attendance, but they are not always the same teachers who are good at helping students improve test scores.

“Attendance is an important thing for school, for life, in work and in the labor market,” said Gershenson. “The results show that teachers do affect things other than test scores and if you are solely evaluating them on tests, you are missing an important part of their contribution.”

Often people say they’ve had a good teacher who encouraged them to learn, but this research examines why that is and what the impact might be. Gershenson says he hopes the award will bring attention to the paper and generate a discussion about teacher quality being multidimensional.

Earlier this year, Gershenson published a related article, co-authored with SPA’s Alison Jacknowitz and published in the Journal of Education, Finance and Policy. The study focuses on the harmful effects of student absences and explores interventions to improve attendance.