Cortes Named Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research

October 16, 2014

Dr. Kalena Cortes

Dr. Kalena Cortes, Assistant Professor at the Bush School of Government and Public Service, has been appointed as a Faculty Research Fellow in the National Bureau of Economic Research’s (NBER) Program on Education. Cortes joins more than 1,300 professors of economics and business now teaching at colleges and universities in North America who are NBER researchers, and who are considered the leading scholars in their fields.

The NBER is the nation’s leading nonprofit economic research organization, and works to promote a greater understanding of how the economy works by conducting and disseminating unbiased economic research among public policy makers, business professionals, and the academic community. Twenty-four Nobel Prize winners in Economics and thirteen past chairs of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers have been researchers at the NBER.

NBER researchers focus on four types of empirical research: developing new statistical measurements, estimating quantitative models of economic behavior, assessing the economic effects of public policies, and projecting the effects of alternative policy proposals. Cortes has published extensively in the areas of the economics of education and economic demography. Her research focuses on policies relating to curriculum reform, diversity in higher education, post-secondary returns to education, and educational achievement of immigrant children in the United States.

Dr. Cortes’ most recent study, “Intensive Math Instruction and Educational Attainment: Long-Run Impacts of Double-Dose Algebra,” forthcoming in The Journal of Human Resources (NBER Working Paper No. 20211,, analyzes an intensive math instruction policy in the Chicago Public Schools, in which 9th grade students who scored below average on their 8th grade exam were assigned an algebra course that doubled instructional time and emphasized problem-solving skills. Cortes finds a positive and substantial long-run impact of the double-dose algebra policy on college entrance exam scores, high school graduation rates, and college enrollment rates. The college enrollment effects were larger than the test score effects would have predicted, highlighting the importance of evaluating educational interventions on longer-run outcomes. A popular version of this paper was published in Education Next (

“Dr. Cortes work has particular significance in terms of increasing student success, especially in math and science,” said Dr. Arnold Vedlitz, Executive Associate Dean of the Bush School. “These are important findings for educators and others who look for innovative approaches in secondary education.” 

Prior to joining the Bush School, Dr. Cortes taught at the School of Education at Syracuse University. She holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California at Berkeley, is a Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), and has been a visiting scholar at both Stanford and Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, the National Bureau of Economic Research, and Princeton University.


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