Faculty Spotlight: Celeste Carruthers

Celeste Carruthers

Celeste Carruthers, a new assistant professor in the Department of Economics, recently received the Jean Flanigan Outstanding Dissertation Award from the American Education Finance Association (AEFA). The award was presented at the annual AEFA conference in Richmond, Virginia.

Carruthers’ dissertation analyzed the impact of charter schools on teacher movement and student achievement. She used data from North Carolina to evaluate teachers in terms of credentials and classroom achievement as they moved from traditional public schools to charter schools.

Carruthers found that teachers moving to charter schools were less experienced and less likely to be certified, on average, than teachers moving between traditional public schools. Among certified teachers, however, charter movers had higher licensure test scores. Classroom achievement was lower, on average, for charter movers than for other teachers, but variance in this measure of teacher quality was wide.

Carruthers earned her Ph.D from the University of Florida in 2009, and she joined the faculty of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, last August. She currently is working on two papers based on her dissertation research: “The Qualifications and Classroom Performance of Teachers Moving to Charter Schools,” and “New Schools, New Students, New Teachers: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Charter Schools.” 

Last fall, Carruthers and her colleagues in the Center for Business and Economic Research advised the Tennessee Department of Education on the department’s grant application for upgrades to the state’s education data warehouse. The center’s proposal ultimately was incorporated into Tennessee’s successful Race to the Top application, which resulted in the state being awarded $500 million to implement the state’s comprehensive education reform plans over the next four years. Forty states and the District of Columbia presented proposals to the Race to the Top program, a competition for states to receive federal funding for education reform.

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