Richard Murnane, an economist, is the Thompson Professor of Education and Society at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research.
In recent years he has pursued three lines of research. With MIT professors Frank Levy and David Autor, he has examined how computer-based technological change has affected skill demands in the United States' economy, and the effectiveness of educational policies in responding to changing skill demands. Murnane and Levy have written two books on this topic.
The second line of research examines trends and patterns in U.S. high school graduation rates and their explanations. In June 2013, the Journal of Economic Literature published Murnanes interpretive review of the evidence on this topic.
The third line of research examines the respects in which the growth in family income inequality in the U.S. has affected educational opportunities for children from low-income families and the effectiveness of alternative strategies for improving life chances for these children. Murnane co-edited (with Greg Duncan) the 2011 volume, Whither Opportunity: Rising Inequality, Schools, and Children's Life Chances (Russell Sage). In January 2014, Harvard Education Press and Russell Sage) published Duncan and Murnanes book, Restoring Opportunity: The Crisis of Inequality and the Challenge for American Education.
Early in his career, Murnane taught high school mathematics. In 2001-02, he served as Special Senior Assistant to the Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools. In 2011, he and John Willett published the book, Methods Matter: Improving Causal Inference in Educational and Social Science Research (Oxford U. Press).
Data Wise: A Step-by-Step Guide to Using Assessment Results to Improve Teaching and Learning (co-editor with Kathryn Parker Boudett and Elizabeth A. City, (Harvard Education Press, Fall 2005) (2005)
The New Division of Labor: How Computers Are Changing the Way We Work (Princeton University Press and Russell Sage Foundation, 2004) (with Frank Levy) (2004)
Low-Wage America (co-editor with Eileen Appelbaum and Annette Bernhardt), Russell Sage Foundation (2003). (2003)
"Can the Internet Help Solve America's Education Problems: Lessons from the Cisco Networking Academies," (with Nancy Sharkey and Frank Levy) National Research Council (in press), in P. Graham and N. Stacey (eds.) The Knowledge Economy and Postsecondary Education, The Committee on the Impact of the Changing Economy on the Postsecondary Education System (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2002). (2002)
"Information Technology and Skill Requirements: Examples from a Car Dealership," (with Anne Beamish and Frank Levy), in F. Rauner, N. Schreier, G. Sp⎯ttl (eds.) The Future of Computer-Supported Diagnosis (Germany: W. Bertelsmann Verlag), 2002, 133-159. (2002)
Upstairs, Downstairs: Computers and Skills on Two Floors of a Large Bank, (with David Autor and Frank Levy), Industrial and Labor Relations Review (2002) (2002)
"Do the Cognitive Skills of Dropouts Matter in the Labor Market?" (with John H. Tyler and John B. Willett) Journal of Human Resources . 82(Feb. 2000)1, 23-37. (2001)
"From High School to Teaching: Many Steps. Who Makes It?" (with Emiliana Vegas and John B. Willett), Teachers College Record, 103(June 2001)3, 427-449. (2001)
"Key Competencies Critical to Economic Success," (with Frank Levy), in D. Rychen and L. Salganik (eds.) Defining and Selecting Key Competencies (Seattle, WA: Hogrefe & Huber Publishers, 2001). (2001)
"Will Standards-Based Educational Reforms Improve Education for Children of Color?" (with Frank Levy), National Tax Journal (June 2001). (2001)
Estimating the Labor Market Signaling Value of the GED, (with John H. Tyler and John B. Willett), Quarterly Journal of Economics 115(May 2000)2, 431-468. (2000)
Second Chance Strategies for Women Who Drop Out of School, (with Kathryn Boudett and John Willett), Monthly Labor Review, December 2000. (2000)
Who Benefits from Obtaining a GED? Evidence from High School and Beyond, (with John H. Tyler and John B. Willett), Review of Economics and Statistics (February 2000). (2000)
Do Male Dropouts Benefit from Obtaining a GED,Post-Secondary Education and Training? (with John B. Willett and Kathryn P. Boudett), Evaluation Review (October 1999). (1999)
"Does Acquisition of a GED Lead to More Training, Post-Secondary Education, and Military Service for School Dropouts?," in Industrial and Labor Relations Review (Vol. 51, No. 1, October 1997) (with John B. Willett and Kathryn Parker Boudett), pp. 100-116. (1997)
Teaching the New Basic Skills (The Free Press, 1996) (with Frank Levy). (1996)
Who Will Teach? Policies that Matter (Harvard University Press, 1991) (with Judith Singer, John Willett, James Kemple, and Randall Olsen). (1991)
Improving Indicators of the Quality of Science and Mathematics Education in Grades K-12 (National Academy Press, 1988) (co-editor with Senta Raizen). (1988)
The Impact of School Resources on the Learning of Inner City Children (Ballinger, 1975). (1975)
Intended and Unintended Consequences of State High-Stakes Testing: Evidence from Standards-Based Reform in Massachusetts, U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, (2010-2013) Over the past two decades, state and federal policymakers have turned to standardized testing to focus attention on student achievement in the classroom and to hold schools, teachers, and students accountable for their performance. These tests may carry either high or low stakes for students, with more than half of all states requiring students to demonstrate competency on a high school exit exam before earning a diploma. Building on previous IES-funded research, we will use rigorous quasi-experimental methods to draw causal inferences about the effects of high-stakes testing. We seek to understand more completely the effects of standards-based reform, and high-stakes exit examinations in particular, on a wide range of student outcomes. The plan is to examine all students in the Massachusetts public school system from 2002 through 2009 and GED testing records for students from 1980 to 2009. Massachusetts is an interesting laboratory for inquiry because its educational system is one of the highest performing in the country. Since the state introduced standards-based testing in 1993, 8th grade students have improved remarkably on the NAEP and now rank first among states in mathematics and reading.
Measuring Excellence and Equity in K12 Classroom Wiki Learning Environments, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, (2009-2011) Web 2.0 tools are transforming the economic and civic spheres, and increasingly educators are using open education platforms to help students develop the new skills needed for the 21st century. Open education researchers are beginning to tackle critical questions about excellence and equity in Web 2.0 learning environments: What are best practices for supporting high quality online learning? How are high quality Web 2.0 learning communities distributed among schools serving diverse populations? These key questions hinge upon measurements of quality, but at present, researchers have no instruments for systematically measuring quality in online learning environments, especially when quality is defined as promoting the new basic skills of expert thinking, complex communication, and new media literacy. We propose a research program that will culminate in the creation and rigorous pilot testing of an instrument designed to measure the quality of instruction and skill development in K-12 classroom wiki learning environments. Our first research product will be a paper based on quantitative analyses of over 180,000 classroom wikis that will describe prototypical wiki lifecycles by school type, subject area, and other school-specific covariates. This paper will provide a broad context for case studies of classroom wiki use based on observations and interviews with expert wiki-using teachers. We will summarize the results of this qualitative research in a second paper, which will focus on practitioners views on the determinants of wiki quality. These observational studies and the literature on 21st century competencies will provide the basis for the design of an instrument to measure the development of these competencies in wiki learning environments. Our final paper will report on the results of a pilot test of this instrument, including findings on the tools reliability and validity and hypotheses about the key questions of excellence and equity in open education environments.