Dr. Kalena E. Cortes, associate professor in the PSAA department, holds a PhD in economics from the University of California at Berkeley. She is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) in the Economics of Education program, a Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), and most recently has been appointed as a Scholar in the Mindset Scholars Network. Dr. Cortes has also been a visiting scholar at both Stanford and Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, the National Bureau of Economic Research, and Princeton University.
Dr. Cortes research interest is in the area of the economics of education. Her research focuses on issues of equity and access, in particular, identifying educational policies that help disadvantaged students at the PK-12 and postsecondary levels. She has worked on three key areas: improving academic performance of urban students, increasing access to postsecondary education, and raising educational attainment of immigrant students. Her recent work includes the effects of double-dose algebra and course scheduling policies on student achievement, affirmative action policies in higher education, and the effect of legal status on college enrollment of immigrant youth. Her research has been published in The Review of Economics and Statistics, The Journal of Human Resources, Economics of Education Review, Education Finance and Policy, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, and the National Tax Journal.
Dr. Cortes has been involved in a variety of major service activities, both on campus and in her profession. She is currently on the editorial board of the Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis and Economics of Education Review journals, and is an Associate Editor of AERA Open. She is currently serving on the American Economic Association’s Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession (CSMGEP). She served on the Board of Directors of the Association for Education Finance and Policy (AEFP) and was a Fellow at the Greater Texas Foundation. She is also the recipient of several grants and fellowships; her research has been funded by Spencer Foundation, American Educational Research Association, Greater Texas Foundation, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, National Institutes of Health, the US Department of Education - Institute of Education Sciences, and the National Science Foundation.
In the Media
- The Washington Post (Ana Swanson), September 10, 2015, “The Big Myth about Refugees - Refugees Can Be an Investment, Rather Than a Burden.”
- The Washington Post (Jeff Guo), January 6, 2015, “For black students, SAT scores matter a lot – A new study suggests affirmative action policies in college admissions might be a good idea.”
- Diverse Issues in Higher Education (Jamaal Abdul-Alim), January 5, 2015, “Relying on Above-Average Scores on Entrance Exams Hinders Diversity.”
- Atlanta Journal Constitution, (Maureen Downey), January 31, 2013, “A Double Dose of Algebra Improves Math and Verbal Skills as Well as College Enrollment.”
- TAMUtimes (Lesley Henton), December 14, 2012, “Extra Algebra Class Improves Both Math and Verbal Skills in High Schoolers.”
- Education Week (Erik Robelen), November 1, 2012, “Study Finds Benefits to a ‘Double Dose’ of Algebra.”
- Houston Chronicle (Rick Casey), August 17, 2010, “Sales Point: Nice House in Bad ISD.”
- The Chronicle of Higher Education, (Peter Schmidt), August 9, 2010, The Ticker, “Texas Admissions-Policy Shift Hurt Lower-Ranked Minority Students.”
- Inside Higher Ed (Scott Jaschik), January 12, 2009, “The 10% Fight Is Back.”