Texas Tech University

ExpandED: Broadening the Understanding of Contemporary Issues in Education and Policy

The Texas Tech University Educational Leadership Policy faculty in collaboration with the Center for Innovative Research in Change, Leadership, and Education (CIRCLE) invite you to join us for our virtual brown bag series, “ExpandED: Broadening the Understanding of Contemporary Issues in Education and Policy.” Featuring researchers from the College of Education and various institutions across the country, the aim of this series is to bring together students, faculty, and researchers at Texas Tech and beyond to disseminate knowledge that is of immediate relevance to educational leadership and policy and facilitate the cross-pollination of ideas across multiple institutions.

This year, audiences from across the country will gather virtually to engage with speakers on topics related to policy evaluation and open-science research practices, evolutions and social constructions of education policy over time, and empirical research noting the barriers and challenges to providing equitable educational opportunities for historically marginalized students.

To access recordings of all previous ExpandED talks, please visit the webinars page linked here.

Schedule and Summary of 2023-24 Talks

Beyond the Classroom: An Exploration of Rich and Relevant STEM Learning in Informal and Non-Formal Spaces

September 19, 2023, 12pm-1pm

Gail Jones

Gail Jones, Ph.D.Alumni Distinguished ProfessorNC State University

Megan Ennes

Megan Ennes, Ph.D.Assistant Professor of Museum EducationUniversity of Florida

Gina Childers

Gina Childers, Ph.D.Assistant ProfessorCollege of Education
Texas Tech University

Discussion of the U.S. STEM education system largely focuses on formal (classroom) education, although scholarship would suggest that additional and rich STEM learning is occurring in both informal and non-formal spaces. A panel of three scholar-experts who enact and research informal/non-formal STEM discuss the affordances of STEM learning in such spaces. With their unique insight, each contributor provides policy recommendations to enhance, strengthen, and/or reform in/non-formal STEM education in the United States, in their respective states, and spheres of influence. CIRCLE associate director Dr. Rebecca Hite moderates this discussion with Dr. Gail Jones (North Carolina State University), Dr. Megan Ennes (University of Florida), and Dr. Gina Childers (Texas Tech University).


Teacher Turnover and Student Achievement Under the Texas Teacher Incentive Allotment: Insights from an Urban School District

October 3, 2023, 12pm-1pm

Kirksey, Jacob,

Jacob Kirksey, Ph.D.Assistant ProfessorCollege of Education
Texas Tech University

The 83rd Texas legislature passed House Bill 3 (HB 3) in 2019, establishing the Texas Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA) program. As one of the largest teacher pay-for-performance systems in the country, the purpose of the program is to provide a realistic pathway for effective teachers to earn a six-figure salary in hard-to-staff schools. While previous research is mixed as to whether pay-for-performance programs improve retention of high-quality teachers and improve student performance, no research to date has examined whether the TIA program in Texas is linked to either of these outcomes. Using data provided by a small, urban school district, I discuss whether TIA designation associates with likelihood of teacher turnover and/or student achievement gains in the district. Specifically, I illustrate turnover rates of teachers designated under compared to similarly effective teachers in subsequent years. In this talk, I will also discuss whether students with TIA-designated teachers exhibit better academic performance compared to students with non-TIA teachers.


"Asking for Anything is Tough": How Autistic College Students Reconcile Self-Advocacy

October 10, 2023, 12pm-1pm

Brett Nachman

Brett Nachman, Ph.D.Assistant ProfessorAdult and Lifelong Learning
University of Arkansas

College presents a new phase for individuals to engage in self-exploration and find independence. For many students, including those who identify as autistic, seizing self-advocacy affords many challenges. Dr. Nachman presents findings from a qualitative research study on autistic community college students and their journeys to embrace self-advocacy, as well as previews early findings from a national survey of autistic college student success (funded by the Spencer Foundation) to show how self-advocacy often factors into students' own definitions of success. Throughout he relays stories of optimism and opportunities, including that of his own path as an autistic scholar.


Evolving Conceptions of Teacher Leadership in World Culture

November 7, 2023, 12pm-1pm

Gerald K. LeTendre

Gerald K. LeTendre, Ph.D.H.L. Batschelet Chair of Education (EDLDR) Education Policy Studies
Penn State University

“Leadership” as a construct has played a central role in globally diffusing educational reforms of the last few decades. Both “accountability” and decentralization movements assume that more active and informed “leadership” in schools will result in higher test scores, e.g., better school performance. This vision of leadership has roots in a cultural logic of western individualism and rationalized educational environments dedicated to individual human capital development. In this institutional logic, teachers' roles as workers is taken-for-granted, and so movements to promote both teacher leadership, lifelong or workplace learning, and teacher professionalism become necessary. The role of the teacher leader is radically different in 1) older cultural logics that emphasize a diffuse outcome of education (e.g., bildung in Germany and shido in Japan); 2) national cultural logics that emphasize schools as engines of national identity formation. In these alternative logics, teachers are taken-for-granted “leaders” with far-ranging duties and authority that extends beyond classroom walls. Overtime, a preponderance of science has come to indicate the central role that teachers play in creating effective student learning environments as well as the impact of organizational routines and rationales that support workplace learning. This requires new reforms that attempt to reformulate schools as “learning ecosystems,” “learning organizations” or organizations that support “workplace learning.” In this evolving world culture of school reform, teacher leadership becomes a “floating signifier” that can take on multiple meanings depending on the context and aims of reforms.


The Responsibilities of Comparative Education Research

December 5, 2023, 12pm-1pm

Alexander Wiseman

Alexander Wiseman, Ph.D. Professor of Educational Leadership Policy, Director of the Center for Innovative Research in Change, Leadership, and Education (CIRCLE) College of Education
Texas Tech University

Education is one of the most prevalent institutions in the world, and most individuals have been either a part of the education system (as students) or worked professionally in an organization or entity related to education (as teachers, for example) than any other institution in the world. As a result, the field of comparative education is responsible for the development of youth, communities, economies, and agendas in every community, nation, and region of the world. With this kind of influence, often comes enormous responsibility to influence or affect individuals and populations in ways that improve living conditions, general knowledge, and specific skills, and which has an impact on social, economic, political, and cultural systems across the gamut. This talk examines these responsibilities and how comparative education is (and should be) addressing them.


Dual Credit Programs and their Challenges for Rural and Urban Students

January 23, 2024, 12pm-1pm

Hugo Garcia

Hugo Garcia, Ph.D.Associate ProfessorCollege of Education
Texas Tech University

Upward socioeconomic mobility in the United States necessitates postsecondary education in some form due to various local and global political and economic conditions. Most jobs created after the recession were positions that required some kind of postsecondary education and/or credentials. Given the global pandemic caused by COVID-19, the need to obtain some higher level of education beyond high school will only intensify. Unfortunately, students from working-class backgrounds within urban and rural settings have not had the same educational opportunities as those from suburban environments or from wealthy backgrounds. Therefore, it is paramount to better understand the ways policy makers and educators can ameliorate the educational gap between students from working-class backgrounds in rural/urban communities and those from wealthy suburban environments. This presentation will showcase the ways in which dual credit programs can promote exposure to a collegiate environment and increase college participation of students who may not have pursued a collegiate pathway beyond high school.


International schools in national contexts: Examining the implications of the growing international school field on education as a national project

January 30, 12pm-1pm

Ericka Galegher

Ericka Galegher, Ph.D.International Consultant

Education as an institution is often viewed by nation-states as a vital component to cultivating citizenry. However, in countries like Egypt, where policy mandates towards privatization were adopted in the 1990s, the burden of providing education to its citizens moved to private, international schools for those able and willing to pay. Not just in Egypt but many post-colonial, developing countries, the field of international schools has grown rapidly. Most recent data indicates a 60% increase in global growth of international schools worldwide with a total of more than 13,000 English medium international schools educating 5.8 million students. This is significant because nearly 80% of these students are host country nationals, many from particularly privileged segments of society. However, little research exists examining the socializing influence these international schools have on host country nationals, who are learning a foreign curriculum in a foreign language and often with foreign teachers. Dr. Galegher will present results from a case study in Egypt that analyze the long-term implications of these schools on host country nationals, the often contrasting aims of national education systems and international schools, and recommendations for what school leaders and policymakers can do to find an equilibrium between localization and internationalization.


Motherhood, Childhood and Parenting in an Age of Education: An Invited Invasion

March 5, 2024, 12pm-1pm

Maryellen Schaub

Maryellen Schaub, Ph.D.Associate Teaching Professor of EducationCollege of Education
Penn State University

The expectations associated with childhood increasingly include cognitive and school related activities as the partnership between parents and education intensifies in the joint project of human development of children. An Invited Invasion is about the fundamental transformation of motherhood and childhood as education, our largest social intervention, grows in institutional strength. It is about a change in parenting to a more schooled and cognitively based developmental approach, not just more demands but a change in the meaning of motherhood and also childhood.


Living the Legacy: A Study of Migration, Segregation, and Education

March 19, 2024, 12pm-1pm

Floyd Beachum

Floyd Beachum, Ed.D.ProfessorCollege of Education
Lehigh University

This qualitative study explored the perspectives of Black educational leaders and teachers who attended segregated schools and then taught in more integrated settings after the Great Migration. Data collected through semi-structured interviews revealed three main themes: boundaries, community, and enhanced education. Importantly, the findings also revealed that as these Black educators shared their teaching and leadership experiences after migrating, they somehow could not escape the physical or psychological burden associated with being Black. This talk will include implications for how current educators interface with students of color to help them navigate the educational system.


AP or IB?: Geographic Patterns in Advanced Course-Taking, High School Achievement, and Postsecondary Outcomes

March 26, 2024, 12pm-1pm

Thomas Luschei

Thomas Luschei, Ph.D.ProfessorSchool of Educational Studies
Claremont Graduate University

Although high schools across the United States have increasingly boosted the availability of advanced coursework like Advancement Placement and International Baccalaureate, these offerings are much less available in rural schools and towns, relative to urban and suburban communities. Given substantial evidence that AP and IB courses provide an academic advantage over traditional coursework, this pattern has negative implications for the educational achievement and attainment of students in rural areas. How should educators and policy makers respond to this challenge when allocating limited resources? It is not clear whether students in rural schools would benefit more from increased access to AP or IB courses (or some combination of the two), since few studies have directly compared the two programs. Drawing on data from the 2009 US High School Longitudinal Study, we examine differential access to and impact of AP and IB courses for high school students across urban, suburban, and rural communities and towns in the United States. Consistent with earlier evidence, we find that AP courses are much more available than IB courses in rural areas and towns. Yet when they are available, IB courses appear to have a greater positive impact for rural students, particularly in terms of postsecondary outcomes. Our results support growing calls to increase students' access to advanced coursework, particularly in rural areas and towns. (Based on work conducted with Dr. Dong Wook Jeong from Seoul National University)


What's Driving the Push for "School Choice" in Texas?

April 4, 2024, 12pm-1pm

Kathy Rollo

Kathy Rollo Ed.D.Superintendent
Lubbock Independent School District

Public education won the battle and held off "school choice" in the last legislative session, but the war is far from over. What is driving this push for policy change, and what are the potential ramifications for public education if vouchers become a reality in the future? Join this conversation to hear a thirty-five year public educator's thoughts and fears regarding this shift.


Economic Returns to Upskilling and Reskilling: Can Short Skills-Building Sequences in Community and Technical Colleges Yield a Living Wage?

April 9, 2024, 11:45am-12:30pm

Peter Riley Bahr

Peter Riley Bahr Ph.D.Associate Professor
Marsal Family School of Education


More Than an Email: The Effects of Transfer Student-Faculty Interactions at a Four-Year University

April 23, 2024, 12pm-1pm

Jennifer Freeman

Jennifer Freeman Ph.D. CandidateGraduate School of Education
University of Pennsylvania

Community colleges serve as a vital pathway for upward mobility, enrolling a disproportionate number of first-generation, racially minoritized, and low-income students and facilitating their transfer to four-year institutions. Despite the opportunities transfer pathways offer, the retention and graduation rates of transfer students remain pressing concerns. Numerous studies have highlighted that faculty-student relationships are among the most influential factors shaping the success of transfer students. Indeed, a substantial body of research links student engagement with faculty to a range of positive psychosocial and academic outcomes; however, this literature primarily focuses on students who begin college at four-year institutions. Given the well-documented challenges transfer students encounter when adapting to new university environments, a detailed understanding of their interactions with faculty is crucial for fostering student success. In this presentation, I will share insights from a survey of transfer students at a single University of California campus, which asked about their experiences throughout the transfer process and their perceptions of academic and social integration at the receiving institution. Specifically, I will present findings from a study investigating the nature and frequency of faculty-student interactions, both inside and outside the classroom, and how these interactions relate to students' academic achievement and progress toward graduation.

Estimating the Impact of the Texas Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA) Program on Educational Outcomes

April 30, 2024, 6pm-7pm Central

Andrew Roland

Andrew Roland Ph.D. StudentCollege of Education
Texas Tech University

This presentation examines the Texas Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA) program, introduced in 2019 as a major reform aimed at improving teacher retention and enhancing student achievement through significant salary increases for effective teachers. Employing Synthetic Control Method (SCM), this study constructs a counterfactual scenario to analyze the program's impact within the first 26 participating districts over the school years from 2014-15 to 2022-23. Specifically, it explores how TIA has affected teacher retention and student performance in math and reading for grades 4-7. The findings highlight a notable increase in teacher retention and a corresponding rise in student achievement levels. This research provides insights into the influence of merit-based compensation systems on educational outcomes.