Center for Benefit-Cost Studies of Education moves from Teachers College, Columbia University to Penn’s Graduate School of Education

Thursday, January 14, 2021
Penn GSE Assistant Professor Brooks Bowden now leads the center.

Penn GSE Assistant Professor Brooks Bowden now leads the center.

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Kat Stein, Penn GSE Communications | 215-500-1593

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Teachers College, Columbia University (TC) and the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education (Penn GSE) announced today that the renowned Center for Benefit-Cost Studies of Education (CBCSE) has moved to Penn GSE. The Center will be led by Assistant Professor Brooks Bowden, with founder Henry Levin continuing as Founding Director and Senior Fellow. 

“We are so excited to make Penn GSE the new home for the Center for Benefit-Cost Studies of Education,” said Penn GSE Dean Pam Grossman. “This Center builds on Penn GSE’s work to address critical challenges in education related to educational equity – and to be at the forefront of this research.  Dr. Bowden has been an outstanding addition to our school, and I am confident she will continue the Center’s legacy of impact.”

“Dr. Bowden is an extraordinarily talented colleague, with a 12-year record of leadership and productivity at CBCSE,” said Henry Levin, Founding Director of CBCSE.  “She has made important contributions to the Center’s success. CBCSE considers itself very fortunate to have such a strong new leader for the directorship.”  

The mission of CBCSE is to advance educational equity by conducting economic evaluations of interventions and policies that addresses educational barriers related to poverty and oppression that prevent students from experiencing the full value of education. One aspect of this work is to assess and demonstrate the value of investing in education and marginalized children and youth. The Center’s website features an array of publications and methods for benefitting educational decisions. The research the Center conducts provides information about effective practices and associated “ingredients” to improve the efficient allocation of scarce resources to better serve students and society. Finally, a major focus of CBCSE is to strengthen the quality of research and economic evaluation

CBCSE launched in 2007 as an outgrowth of the work begun in the 1970s by Center founder Dr. Henry Levin, who is a key contributor in the field of the economics of education. Levin has written extensively about the application of cost-effectiveness to improve educational outcomes among disadvantaged children. Levin, with support from Patrick McEwan and Clive Belfield, established the mission of the center to advance methods of economic evaluation to improve the lives of marginalized children. Levin’s textbook on cost-effectiveness methods and applications is in its 3rd edition by H. Levin, P. McEwan, C. Belfield, A. B. Bowden, and R. Shand, Economic Evaluation of Education: Cost-Effectiveness and Benefit-Cost Analysis (Sage 2018). The three editions of the book together have more than 2,000 citations. CBCSE also produced CostOut, a web-based tool to support cost studies with funding from IES.

With CBCSE now based at Penn, Dr. Bowden plans to build on CBCSE’s groundbreaking work and legacy of improving educational investments and outcomes in the U.S. and abroad. Specifically, Dr. Bowden’s work focuses on leveraging additional resources from families, volunteers, and the community in order to strengthen the supports provided to students. Methodologically, her work focuses on strategies to improve educational research by integrating cost-effectiveness into evaluations.

Upcoming research projects for the Center include cost-effectiveness analyses of interventions addressing early-childhood learning needs among millions of refugee children. This project will be conducted in partnership with NYU's Center for Global TIES for Children and the Sesame Workshop, with funding from the LEGO Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation. CBCSE is also planning new work examining the long-term effects of social supports for elementary students, the economic consequences of postsecondary promises on high school student engagement, the costs and benefits of the federal Community Eligibility Provision school meal funding program, and the effects of school meal programming on student behavior and learning.    

Dr. Bowden has served as the Director of Training for CBCSE since 2015, leading the Center’s efforts to provide training and methodological support to the field to increase the use and quality of research in the field. During that time, CBCSE provided the IES Methods Training Program in Cost-Effectiveness and Benefit-Cost Analysis, serving more than 150 education researchers at universities, research firms, state and district offices, and other non-profit organizations. The training grant is now held at Penn under the leadership of Dr. Bowden as PI. Applications for summer 2021 trainings will be accepted later this winter.

Dr. Bowden also co-leads Penn’s $4.5 million Predoctoral Training Program in Interdisciplinary Methods for Field-Based Research in Education, with Dr. Rebecca Maynard. The program provides rigorous training and apprenticeships in education research for Ph.D. students across the University. In 2018 Dr. Bowden was recognized as a top “40 for 40” early career scholar by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management. She also serves on the board of the Association for Education Finance and Policy, as a section editor at the American Journal of Evaluation, and as an editorial board member of Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis.

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