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Fall 2013 - 63578 - PA388K - Advanced Topics in Public Policy

Educational Diagnostic Information Systems

Instructor(s): Linden, Leigh
Unique Number: 63578
Day & Time: F 9:00 am -12:00 pm
Room: SRH 3.220
Waitlist Information:For LBJ Students: UT Waitlist Information
Course Overview

Topics for these policy seminars have included environmental and natural resources policy, health-service delivery policy, social welfare policy, transportation policy, science and technology policy, international affairs, national security, urban and regional growth policy, and political campaigns.

 

Section Description

This course requires instructor consent to enroll.  If you are interested, please see the last paragraph for instructions.

This course is being built around an investigation into diagnostic testing systems for use in developing countries. This will not be a lecture-based class. Instead the students and I will work together over the course of the semester to develop a testing strategy for use in public primary schools in Sierra Leone.

Through an international non-profit organization (Innovations for Poverty Action), I have been asked to develop a testing system that meets the following criteria:

  1. It should cover competencies in reading and math.
  2. It should provide sufficient detail that when graded and summarized, teachers receive sufficient feedback to tailor instruction more effectively.
  3. It can be administered multiple times a year by enumerators trained at the level of a typical para-teacher (usually the equivalent of high school).

The students and professor will first develop a strategy for reviewing the existing, relevant literature on testing schemes like this. This review will also identify any outstanding questions about their effectiveness. Based on this review, we will then develop a testing system and identify strategies for answering any major outstanding questions. Funds are available for a team in Sierra Leone to pilot the system on a sample of public schools.

Since this course is experimental, we may modify the structure of the course. However, we will initially meet for an hour twice a week. Students should also expect to spend time outside of class working on various assignments. The goal of the course is to teach students about the subject of diagnostic testing, but more generally to provide students with hands-on experience organizing and implementing large research projects. My goal is that the course should be a collaborative working environment, and the professor expects to work closely with the students. The course will be graded based on the quality of each student’s contributions to the project.

Application Process: To keep the size of the class manageable, enrollment will be restricted to five students, selected by the instructor. Additionally, I will select a time for the course to meet based on students’ availability. To apply, submit your current transcript, a resume, a cover letter describing any relevant experiences or skills (even if these are listed on your transcript or resume), and list of times during which you could attend class by August 25th to leigh.linden@austin.utexas.edu. I may request interviews with some applicants on August 27th. Applicants will be notified on the 28th. Prior experience in Sierra Leone or similar countries, with education issues in developing countries, with data analysis, or the development of educational tests would be useful, but is not required. All graduate level students at the University are welcome to apply.