Joshua M. Cowen

Associate Professor of Teacher Education and Educational Policy, Michigan State University
Chapter Member: Michigan SSN
Areas of Expertise:

About Joshua

Cowen is a policy analyst specializing in issues of American education. His areas of expertise are teacher quality, school choice, and school accountability. Cowen has experience working on these topics across the country, including in Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, New York City, and Wisconsin. Prior to his academic career, he worked for the Democratic National Committee and for CNN.

In the News

Joshua M. Cowen quoted on school choice and competitition by Michael Gerstein, "Detroit Schools Become 'Winners and Losers' in 'Cutthroat System' to Gain Students" Detroit Free Press, August 26, 2019.
Joshua M. Cowen quoted on testing for school choice by Sally Ho, "Testing Required at Private Schools in Nevada Choice Program" Associated Press, November 21, 2017.
Joshua M. Cowen quoted on for-profit organizations running charter schools in Michigan by Trevor Bach, "In Michigan, a Test Case for U.S. Public Schools under Trump?" Christian Science Monitor, January 4, 2017.
Joshua M. Cowen quoted on school vouchers, "Long-Haul Charters" The Economist, December 3, 2016.
Joshua M. Cowen quoted on the counterproductivity of school choice by Nancy Kaffer, "School Choice Not the Right Choice for Our Kids" Detroit Free Press, October 2, 2016.
Guest to discuss the issues that homeless children face on Michigan Public Radio, Joshua M. Cowen, July 11, 2016.
Joshua M. Cowen's research on "Plight of Michigan's Homeless Students Deserve Attention," MSU Daily, May 31, 2016.
"Despite Ruling, Tenure Laws are Bad for Students," Joshua M. Cowen (with Katharine O. Strunk and Dan Goldhaber), The Sacramento Bee, April 28, 2016.
"Why the Charter School Debate Has Moved beyond ‘Better’ or ‘Worse’," Joshua M. Cowen, The Conversation, April 20, 2016.
Joshua M. Cowen's research on ow school of choice affects learning discussed by Ron French, "Schools of Choice Don't Improve Test Scores," Michigan Live, April 7, 2016.
"Do School Vouchers Improve Results? It Depends on What We Ask," Joshua M. Cowen, The Conversation, March 2, 2016.
"Public, Charter, and Private Schools through the Eyes of New Orleans' Parents," Joshua M. Cowen (with Jane Arnold Lincove), Education Week, January 25, 2016.
"Teachers' Unions: Shades of Grey," Joshua M. Cowen (with Katharine Strunk), Education Week, November 16, 2015.
Guest to discuss his study exploring how school choice is working for students on Michigan Radio, Joshua M. Cowen, August 5, 2015.
Joshua M. Cowen quoted on Michigan's school of choice program by Ron French, "More than Half of School of Choice Students End Up Moving Schools Again, Study Shows" Michigan Live, July 29, 2015.
Joshua M. Cowen quoted on who participates in schools of choice program, "Who's Choosing Schools of Choice in Michigan?" MSU Today, July 28, 2015.
Guest to discuss teacher compensation on Michigan Radio Stateside, Joshua M. Cowen, March 31, 2015.
"Charter Schools: Fabulous or Failures?," Joshua M. Cowen, The Conversation, January 16, 2015.
"How Taxpayer-Funded Schools Teach Creationism and Get Away with It," Joshua M. Cowen, New Republic, January 30, 2014.


"Third-Party Governance and Performance Measurement: A Case Study of Private School Vouchers" (with Deven E. Carlson and David J. Fleming). Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory (2013).
Shows that school voucher programs improve when we hold them to the same performance reporting standards as public schools, suggesting that the market is not enough to ensure top performance.
"Life after Vouchers: What Happens to Private School Students When They Return to the Public Sector?" (with Deven E. Carlson and David A. Fleming). Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 35, no. 2 (2013): 179-199.
Shows that the lowest performing students in a large voucher program tend to leave earlier than higher performers; they may also benefit academically from moving back to public school.
"Would a Value-Added System of Retention Improve the Distribution of Teacher Quality? A Simulation of Alternative Policies" (with Marcus A Winters). Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 32, no. 3 (2013): 634-654.
Considers several features of teacher-retention policies based on value-added measures of effectiveness under a variety of empirically grounded rules and parameters.
"Do Charters Retain Teachers Differently than Traditional Public Schools? Evidence from Elementary Schools in Florida" (with Marcus A. Winters). Education Finance and Policy 8, no. 1 (2013): 14-42.

Demonstrates that charter school teachers are more likely to exit the profession than traditional public school teachers, but are no better at removing “ineffective” teachers despite the lack of collective bargaining protections in the charter sector.

"Teacher Retention in Appalachian Schools: Evidence from Kentucky" (with J.S. Butler, Jacob Fowles, Megan Streams, and Eugenia Toma). Economics of Education Review 31, no. 4 (2012): 431-441.
Argues that policymakers should pay more attention to rural school districts, where teachers may exit the profession at even higher rates.