Spotlight Paco Martorell

Paco Martorell

Assistant Professor in Education Policy

Portrait of Paco Martorell

Paco Martorell, who is teaching in the School’s doctoral programs, has broad research interests in both higher education and K-12 policy, particularly in the transitions between high school and college and between college and work. 

In a current field experiment, Martorell is exploring new methods for placing students entering community college into remedial, or developmental, courses and assessing whether those students can move more quickly through these preliminary courses than students typically do.

Martorell is also studying whether potential employers prefer for-profit college or community college graduates, as well as the effects of automatic college admissions for the top 10 percent of high school graduates in Texas. 

“All of my research is quantitative; I am always interested in isolating causal effects of policies on student outcomes,” said Martorell.

A current project has Martorell researching a growing national trend to keep K-12 students who fare badly on statewide assessments from progressing from one grade into the next. To better understand the effects of this approach on student behavioral outcomes, he is researching New York City’s grade retention system. 

“More and more districts and states are moving to this model,” said Martorell. “The argument is that it is detrimental to move students forward who haven’t mastered the content of their previous grade level. I am interested in how this kind of system, that some feel is punitive, can affect students’ engagement in school.”

Martorell completed his PhD in economics at UC Berkeley. He was an economist at the RAND Corporation and was a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School from 2006 to 2014.

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