Renowned Economist James Wyckoff to Join U.Va. Curry School of Education Faculty

Dec. 17, 2007 – Nationally respected economist James H. Wyckoff will join the faculty of the University of Virginia Curry School of Education in January. His research involves studying pathways to teaching and labor-market issues in K-12 education. At U.Va., he will be a professor of education and will help launch and lead the new Virginia Center for Education Policy, to be housed at Curry.

"Jim's strengths as a scholar are complemented by his interests in using his scholarly talents to improve public education," said Robert Pianta, dean of the Curry School. "This is seen in some of the ways he has focused his research over the years — in understanding the career paths of teachers, helping states and districts to use achievement test and other data to make informed decisions about policy, and in designing and leading organizations within a University environment that provide a service to policymakers.

"He is a bridge-builder who truly represents the kind of direction that both Curry and the University are seeking to emphasize — strong scholarship, the capacity to cross disciplinary boundaries and make valuable contributions in multiple domains, and a very strong commitment to public education," Pianta said. "I know he will be active in contributing to initiatives in education policy here in Curry, in establishing links to and advancing the work of the new Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, in teaching and mentorship and in helping launch and lead the new Virginia Center for Education Policy."

This new center will work with Virginia education policymakers to construct data systems that can address policy-relevant questions and provide them with analysis and capacity, said Pianta, who is the Novartis US Foundation Professor and director of U.Va.’s Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning, also known as CASTL.

“I have a real sense of excitement about joining the Curry School faculty,” Wyckoff said. “The opportunity to be part of the engaging teaching and research environment that exists at one of the very best schools of education in the country is very appealing to me. Also, I look forward to joining the work of my new colleagues and policymakers in Virginia to improve outcomes for Virginia's and the nation's children.”

Wyckoff, who received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Denison University in 1974 and his Ph.D. in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1982, comes to U.Va. from the University at Albany where he was a professor of public administration, public policy and economics since 1986.

He has written on a variety of educational policy issues, including school choice, the equity of school spending, the allocation of school expenditures, special education funding and teacher retention.

Wyckoff serves on the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on the Study of Teacher Preparation Programs, directs the Education Finance Research Consortium, serves on the editorial boards of Education Finance and Policy and the Economics of Education Review, and is a member of the Policy Council of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management. He is a past president of the American Education Finance Association and has served on a National Academy of Sciences panel examining the funding of Title I. He also received this year’s Association of Teacher Educators Distinguished Research Award.

Allan Odden, professor of educational leadership and policy analysis and co-director of the Consortium for Policy Research in Education in the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said Wyckoff is “one of the best economists in the country assessing both where the education dollar goes and on what it is spent, as well as parsing the nature of the teacher labor market, both areas which have been neglected in the past but which through his research are now much better understood.”

Ed Crowe, senior consultant on Teachers for a New Era to the Carnegie Corporation of New York, said, “Jim Wyckoff is nationally respected for his innovative research on the impact of teachers on pupil learning. The work he's done in New York with talented colleagues has opened the door to a much deeper understanding of why we must prepare strong teachers for every child in this country. Because of CASTL's well-regarded expertise in studying the attributes of classroom teaching and its impact on student learning, the addition of Jim Wyckoff positions the University of Virginia to make a major contribution in these areas — improving outcomes for children, strengthening the preparation of teachers and boosting the relevance of high-quality research to public policy,” Crowe said.