Schools and Disadvantaged Children Workshop

Tuesday 11 August 2015 at the University of Melbourne


The Melbourne Institute and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course presented a workshop on 11 August 2015 at the University of Melbourne. Presented by Professor Susan Dynarski from the University of Michigan and Associate Professor Chris Ryan from the University of Melbourne.

More information



Susan Dynarksi pdf


Chris Ryan pdf

For many students from disadvantaged backgrounds, schools and the process of schooling seem to do little to rectify their situation. This workshop will look at two cases where disadvantaged students seem to benefit from their schooling.

Dynarski's research suggests that charter schools are particularly effective in raising the achievement of low-income and minority students in urban areas in the United States. What about other educational outcomes? And what is it about the way charter schools operate that influences the test scores of students this way?

Ryan looks at what happens to students who are “removed” from a home environment where they get relatively little parental attention because they live with a sibling who has a disability or long-term health condition. Does this “removal” have an impact on their cognitive development and can it be long-lasting?


Professor Susan Dynarski, Professor of Public Policy, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy; Professor of Education, School of Education, Professor Department of Economics, University of Michigan

"Lessons from the Charter Schools"


Susan Dynarski is a professor of public policy, education and economics at the University of Michigan, where she holds appointments at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, School of Education, Department of Economics and Institute for Social Research. She is a Faculty Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment. Dynarski earned an A.B. in Social Studies from Harvard, a Master of Public Policy from Harvard and a Ph.D. in Economics from MIT. Dynarski has been a Visiting Fellow at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and Princeton University as well as an associate professor at Harvard University. She has been an editor of The Journal of Labor Economics and Education Finance and Policy and is currently on the board of Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis.

Susan Dynarski studies and teaches the economics of education and has a special interest in the interaction of inequality and education. Dynarski has studied the impact of grants and loans on college attendance; the distributional aspects of college savings incentives; and the costs and benefits of simplifying the financial aid system. She is a Principal Investigator on a large-scale project to develop a longitudinal, student-level, research database in Michigan. Her current research focuses on the effect of charter schools, improving student outcomes in community colleges, and the effect of early childhood interventions on adult well-being.

Associate Professor Chris Ryan, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economics and Social Research, Faculty of Business and Economics, University of Melbourne

"Can schooling overcome a poor early home learning environment?"


Chris Ryan has been Director of the Economics of Education and Child Development Research Program, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research since April 2011. Prior to that, he was Director of the Social Policy Evaluation, Analysis and Research (SPEAR) Centre at the Australian National University. Before that, he was employed at other Australian universities and in the Australian Government, where he worked for 13 years.

Chris Ryan has extensive experience in designing, undertaking and managing research projects, developing policy and providing advice to Ministers and senior government and university staff. His research interests span the determinants of and outcomes from participation in different types of education, the impact of related government programs and interventions, and the operation of the Australian labour market. He has undertaken significant projects assessing the impact of government interventions in the higher education and vocational education sectors.  He is an Associate Investigator of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course.

Program pdf



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