Emilyn Ruble Whitesell

Emilyn Ruble Whitesell Emilyn Ruble Whitesell is a 5th-year doctoral student at NYU's Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and a Graduate Assistant at the Institute for Education and Social Policy. On entering NYU-Wagner's doctoral program, Emilyn was awarded a U.S. Department of Education IES fellowship through NYU's Pre-doctoral Interdisciplinary Research Training program. Emilyn's research and teaching interests are in the areas of education policy and program evaluation. Her current research focuses on how school accountability influences parent, teacher, and student perceptions of their schools, large-scale program evaluation, and the spillover effects of student mobility. Before coming to NYU, Emilyn taught high school English as a Teach For America corps member in Indianapolis. Emilyn holds a Master of Arts in Teaching from Marian University and a Bachelor of Science in business from Indiana University's Kelley School of Business. Her dissertation committee includes Leanna Stiefel (chair), Amy Ellen Schwartz, Sean Corcoran, and Meryle Weinstein.




  • Research Interests

Education Policy, Program Evaluation

  • Research

Dissertation Papers

Do You See What I See? The Impact of School Accountability on Parent, Teacher, and Student Perceptions of the School Environment

The theory of how accountability systems “work” assumes that these systems provide new information about school quality and affect individuals’ perceptions of their schools; whether accountability works this way, however, is an empirical question. This paper explores the impact of NYC’s accountability system on stakeholders’ perceptions of their schools and on whether parents, teachers, and students have a shared understanding of academic expectations and discipline. I find that accountability heterogeneously affects parent, teacher, and student perceptions of their schools, widening existing perceptual gaps between different stakeholder groups. Furthermore, I find that accountability decreases variation in parent and teacher perceptions but contributes to greater variation in student perceptions. These results provide insight into how accountability systems “work” and have implications for school accountability systems and survey design.


What is the Urban Advantage? The Effect of Vouchers to Science-Rich Cultural Institutions on Middle School Science Outcomes

This paper builds on previous evaluations of the Urban Advantage (UA) program, which is a formal-informal partnership between NYC middle schools and eight science-rich cultural institutions (e.g., museums, zoos) designed to improve science education and outcomes in NYC middle schools. Previous work has estimated quantitative program impacts, explored program implementation, and identified school factors associated with success in UA. In this paper, I explore the role of one component of the program: vouchers that provide free access to science-rich cultural institutions for class trips and independent visits. I identify school factors that influence voucher take-up and estimate the impact of voucher use on students’ science achievement and perceptions of pedagogy. Results will inform the design of science interventions, particularly those that supplement traditional education resources with support from other community organizations.


The Spillover Effects of Student Mobility on Stable Classmates – Schwartz, Stiefel, and Whitesell

This paper, co-authored with Amy Ellen Schwartz and Leanna Stiefel, focuses on the spillover effects of student mobility during the academic year. Conventional wisdom is that changing schools mid-year negatively affects mobile students’ academic achievement, but little work explores the impact of mid-year mobility on stable students. Using “random shocks” to mid-year entry rates experienced by stable students, we estimate small negative effects of mid-year entry on stable students’ academic outcomes. This paper contributes to the literature on student mobility and informs the discussion about how to minimize any negative effects of students changing schools, potentially by allowing students to remain in their original schools after they make a residential move, by strategic placement of mid-year movers into specific types of schools, or by targeting resources to help schools integrate new students.



Weinstein, M., Whitesell, E.R., and Schwartz, A.E. (in press). Museums, Zoos, and Gardens: How Formal-Informal Partnerships Can Impact Urban Students' Performance in Science, Evaluation Review.[EBR1]      

Link to Publication


Book Chapters

Corcoran, S. P. and E. R. Whitesell (2014). Teacher Experience. In Dominic J. Brewer and Lawrence O. Picus (Eds.) Encyclopedia of Education Economics and Finance. [EBR2]

Link to Chapter

Corcoran, S. P. and E. R. Whitesell (2014). Teacher Supply. In Dominic J. Brewer and Lawrence O. Picus (Eds.) Encyclopedia of Education Economics and Finance.[EBR3]

Link to Chapter


Policy Briefs and Working Papers

Debraggio, E.,L. Nazar de Jaucort, E. Ruble, A. E. Schwartz, L. Stiefel, and M. Weinstein (2011). A Decade of Change in NYC Schools. IESP Brief No. 02-11.[EBR4]

Link to Paper

Weinstein, M., E. R. Whitesell, M. Leardo, G. Grajo, and S. Saldivia, (2014). Successful Schools: How School-Level Factors Influence Success with Urban Advantage. IESP Working Paper No. 01-14.[EBR5]

Link to Paper