Jaekyung Lee

Dean of the Graduate School of Education and Professor

Counseling, School, and Educational Psychology

Educational Leadership and Policy

 434 Baldy Hall
 (716) 645-1132

education accountability policy and high-stakes testing
P-16 education pathways and school interventions
educational equity and achievement gaps
international and comparative education
quantitative research methods--hierarchical linear modeling (HLM)
educational assessment
educational policy analysis
international and comparative education

Jump to Publications

Educational Background

  • Ph.D., Education, University of Chicago
  • M.A., B.A., Education, Yonsei University

Professional and Research Interests

  • Educational Policy Analysis and Program Evaluation
  • Educational Equity and Achievement Gaps
  • Educational Accountability and High-stakes Testing
  • P-16 Education Pathways and Academic Growth Trajectories
  • Comparative and International Education
  • Secondary Analysis of Large-scale National Education Databases
  • Quantitative Research Design, Measurement and Statistical Methods; Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) and Item Response Theory (IRT)

National Awards and Honors

  • Fellow of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), 2013
  • American Educational Research Association Early Career Award, 2007
  • Fellow of Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS), Stanford University, 2009–10
  • Fellow of National Education Policy Center (NEPC), University of Colorado at Boulder, 2007–Present
  • UB Regional Institute Fellow, 2007–2008
  • Marquis Who's Who in America, 2007 -; Marquis Who's Who in the World, 2008 -
  • National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship, 1999 - 2001
  • American Educational Finance Association/National Center for Education Statistics New Scholars Award, 1996 - 1997
  • American Educational Research Association Dissertation Grant, 1995 - 1996
  • Korea Foundation for Advanced Studies Doctoral Fellowship, 1992 - 1997

Professional Service

Research Overview

My current fields of scholarly work encompass educational policy analysis, assessment and evaluation, and quantitative research methodology. A major part of my research agenda is to conduct empirical analysis of the effects of school reform policy and practice on student achievement. Because my research is drawn predominantly from national databases, it holds particularly strong potential for improving K-12 education and school improvement in the United States. However, the scope of my research also goes beyond the U.S. to learn from international comparisons of educational policies and practices.

My research has focused on the issue of improving educational equity. One yardstick of equity is progress toward closing the achievement gap among different racial and social groups of students. Using the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data, my research (published in Educational Researcher and Peabody Journal of Education) showed that the Black-White racial achievement gaps narrowed substantially in the 70s and 80s but the gap stopped narrowing further and even widened in the 90s, giving a wake-up call that there was a significant setback in the national progress toward racial equity in education. This research explored key home, school and social factors that may have contributed to bifurcated patterns in achievement gaps.

As the focus of education policy has shifted from equity to excellence, I have examined the tension between academic excellence and equity. From a policy perspective, my work is central to the current climate of school accountability as articulated in the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which is aimed at achieving high standards for all students and closing the achievement gap by using high-stakes testing and holding schools accountable for performance results. My recent study on the impact of accountability on equity (published in American Educational Research Journal and Harvard Civil Rights Project Report) showed that the past high-stakes testing movement had limited impact because it failed to address racial and social inequity in terms of eliminating disparities in key schooling conditions and resources. My recent study tracks the variability of American states’ policy choices under the No Child Left Behind Act and explores their consequences for student achievement (Journal of Education Policy).

Since the NCLB calls for scientific evidence-based educational practice, there are growing needs for curricular and instructional models that are proven to be successful in improving students' reading and math achievement. Although correlational research based on the analysis of nationally representative sample data provides timely and useful information for exploration of effective school practices, there are limitations in probing complex cause-and-effect relationships between school practices and student outcomes. My colleagues and I have embarked on randomized field trials of research-based curriculum interventions in local schools. The studies involve the applications of advanced measurement and statistical methods for scientific research, including item response theory modeling (IRT) and hierarchical linear modeling (HLM).

I also have conducted comparative research to investigate educational policy and practice in high-performing vs. low-performing countries. In the midst of international brain race, American policymakers often tried to copy policies (e.g., national curriculum and testing). But my studies revealed serious drawbacks in international comparisons and benchmarking efforts (published in Education Policy Analysis Archives and Brookings Papers on Education Policy). My comparative study of after-school private tutoring and math achievement drawing on the Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS) data also helps broaden our understanding of the role of supplementary education and out-of-school learning (published in Teachers College Record).

My current work is expanding its time horizon to P-16 (preschool through college) and seeking more interdisciplinary, human development-oriented and cross-cultural educational policy studies. Given dynamic relationships between education policies and student outcomes in multi-layered school systems, I acknowledge that it is necessary to fill the chasm between what transpires at the national or state level in the short term and what ultimately takes shape as achievement outcomes over the long run at the student level. Building on an ecological perspective of human development as occurring within a dynamic environmental system, I would study the interplay between the trajectories of student achievement outcomes and educational policies. For example, a major research question is: are the long-term trends in different student cohorts’ achievement growth and gap patterns systematically related to the alteration of school accountability systems and educational policy shifts over the past three decades or so? My recent article, "Tripartite Growth Trajectories of Reading and Math Achievement" (American Educational Research Journal) gives foundation for this line of research . My work also adds an international dimension to the achievement gap research. While the fields of domestic achievement gap research and international achievement gap research remain largely separate, new insights can be gained through an integrative study linking the two separate lines of analyses. My article "International and Interstate Gaps in Value-added Math Achievement" (American Journal of Education) addresses this issue.

Selected Publications


Lee, J. (2007). The Testing Gap: Scientific Trials of Test-Driven School Accountability Systems for Excellence and Equity. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing. Available: http://www.infoagepub.com/products/content/p46155c8a7b7b2.php

Lee, J. (Ed.) (2007). How National Data Help Tackle the Achievement Gap. Buffalo, NY: GSE Publications/SUNY Press. Available: http://www.gse.buffalo.edu/faculty/publications

Book Chapters

Lee, J. & Lee, Y.S. (2013). Effects of testing. (pp. 416-418) In Hattie, J. & Anderman, E. (Eds.) International Guide to Student Achievement. New York: Routledge..

Lee, J. (2010). Are Private High Schools Better Academically than Public High Schools? In Welner, K. G., Hinchey, P., Molnar, A., & Weitzman, D. (Eds.) Think Tank Research Quality: Lessons for Policy Makers, the Media, and the Public. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.

Lee, J. (2008). Asian Americans and the Gender Gap in Science and Technology. (pp. 72-83). In M. Wyer, M. Barbercheck, D. Cookmeyer, H. Ozturk, & M. Wayne (Eds.) Women, Science, and Technology (2nd Edition). New York: Routledge.

Lee, J. (2008). Two Takes on the Impact of NCLB: Tracking Statewide Proficiency Trends through NAEP vs. State Assessment. (pp. 75-89). In G. L. Sunderman (Ed.). The NCLB Challenge: Achieving Accountability, Equity and School Reform. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Lee, J. (2007). Can Reducing School Segregation Close the Achievement Gap? (pp. 74-97). In E. Frankenberg & G. Orfield (Eds.). Lessons in Integration: Realizing the Promise of Racial Diversity in America's Schools. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press.

Lee, J. (2007). Revisiting the impact of high stakes testing on student outcomes from an international perspective. In L.Deretchin & C. Craig (Eds.), Teacher education yearbook XV (pp.65-82). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education.

Lee, J. (2005). Asian-American Gender Gap in Science and Technology: Tracking Male vs. Female College Students' Paths toward Academic Careers. In G. Li & G. Beckett (Eds.). "Strangers" of the Academy: Asian Female Scholars in Higher Education. (pp. 15-36). Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC.

Lee, J. (2003). Comment on David Baker's Paper: Should We Be More Like Them? Reflections on Causes of Cross-national High School Achievement Differences and Implications for American Educational Reform Policy. In D. Ravitch (Ed.). Brookings Papers on Education Policy. (pp. 326-331). Washington DC: Brookings Institution.

Lee, J. (2002). Understanding Differences between Rural and Nonrural Schools Impacting Student Achievement: Implications for Title I Programs and Assessments. In K. K. Wong & M. C. Wang & (Eds.). Accountability and Efficiency in Title I Schoolwide Reform. (pp. 291-310). Greenwitch, CT: Information Age Publishing.


Lee, J., Liu, X., Amo, L., & Wang, W. (in press). Multilevel Linkages between State Standards, Teacher Standards, and Student Achievement: Testing External vs. Internal Standards-based Education Models. Educational Policy. .

Lee, J., Shin, H., & Amo, L. (in press). Evaluating the Impact of NCLB School Interventions in New York State: Does One Size Fit All? Education Policy Analysis Archives [Online]. .

Lee, J. (2012). College for All: Gaps between Desirable and Actual P-12 Math Achievement Trajectories for College Readiness. Educational Researcher, 41(2), 43-55.

Lee, J., & Reeves, T. (2012). Revisiting the Impact of NCLB High-stakes School Accountability, Capacity and Resources: State NAEP 1990-2009 Reading and Math Achievement Gaps and Trends. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 34(2), 209-231.

Lee, J. (2012). Educational Equity and Adequacy for Disadvantaged Minority Students: School and Teacher Resource Gaps toward National Math Proficiency Standard. Journal of Educational Research, 105., (1), 64-75.

Lee, J. (2011). Making Educational Accountability System Work for Equity: Learning from the U.S. Experiences and Studies. Education Comparée., 5, 17-34.

Lee, J. & Fish, R. (2010). International and Interstate Gaps in Value-added Math Achievement: Multilevel Instrumental Variable Analysis of Age Effect and Grade Effect. American Journal of Education.,117, 109-137.

Lee, J. (2010). Tripartite Growth Trajectories of Reading and Math Achievement: Tracking National Academic Progress at Primary, Middle and High School Levels American Educational Research Journal.,47(4), 800-832.

Lee, J. (2010). Trick or Treat? New Ecology of Education Accountability System in the United States. Journal of Education Policy., 25(1), 73-93.

Lee, J. (2010). Dual Standards of School Performance and Funding? Empirical Searches of School Funding Adequacy in Kentucky and Maine. Education Economics., 18(2), 131-151.

Lee, J. (2008). Is Test-driven External Accountability Effective? Synthesizing the Evidence from Cross-State Causal-Comparative and Correlational Studies. Review of Educational Research, 78(3), 608-644.

Lee, J. (2007). Do National and State Assessments Converge for Educational Accountability? A Meta-Analytic Synthesis of Multiple Measures in Maine and Kentucky. Applied Measurement in Education, 20(2), 171-203.

Lee, J. (2007). Two Worlds of Private Tutoring: After-School Mathematics Tutoring as Individual and Collective Choices in Korea and the U.S. Teachers College Record, 109(5), 1207-1234.

Lee, J. (2006). Input-guarantee vs. Performance-guarantee Approaches to School Accountability: Cross-State Comparisons of Policies, Resources, and Outcomes. Peabody Journal of Education, 81(4), 43-64.

Lee, J., & Wong, K. K. (2004). The Impact of Accountability on Racial and Socioeconomic Equity: Considering both School Resources and Achievement Outcomes. American Educational Research Journal, 41(4), 797-832.

Lee, J. (2004). Multiple Facets of Inequity in Racial and Ethnic Achievement Gaps. Peabody Journal of Education, 79(2), 51-73.

Lee, J. (2004). Evaluating the Effectiveness of Instructional Resource Allocation and Use: IRT and HLM Analysis of NAEP Teacher Survey and Student Assessment Data. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 30, 175-199.

Lee, J. (2002). Racial and Ethnic Achievement Gap Trends: Reversing the Progress toward Equity? Educational Researcher, 31(1), 3-12. Available: http://www.aera.net/publications/?id=431

Lee, J. (2001). School Reform Initiatives as Balancing Acts: Policy Variation and Educational Convergence among Japan, Korea, England and the United States. Educational Policy Analysis Archives [Online], 9(13). Available: http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v9n13.html

Lee, J. (1998). State Policy Correlates of the Achievement Gap among Racial and Social Groups. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 24, 137-152.

Lee, J. (1997). State Activism in Education Reform: Applying the Rasch Model to Measure Trends and Examine Policy Coherence.Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 19, 29-43.


Kim, Y., Lee, J. et al. (2010). A study on the trend in achievement gap and measures against it. Seoul, Korea: Korea Education Development Institute (RR 2010-2). Available: http://www.kedi.re.kr

Lee, J. (2006). Tracking Achievement Gaps and Assessing the Impact of NCLB on the Gaps: An In-depth Look into National and State Reading and Math Outcome Trends. Cambridge, MA: The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University. Available: http://www.civilrightsproject.ucla.edu

Lee, J. (2001). Interstate Variations in Rural Student Achievement and Schooling Conditions. ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools. ERIC Digest, December 2001. Available: http://www.eric.ed.gov


Lee, J. (2011). Review of “Confronting the shadow education system: what government policies for what private tutoring?” International Journal of Education Development, 31, 560.

Lee, J. (2010). Review of “Stuck Schools: A framework for identifying schools where students need change—now.” Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. Available: http://epicpolicy.org/thinktank/review-stuck-schools

Lee, J. (2007). Review of "Are Private High Schools Better Academically Than Public High Schools?" and "Monopoly Versus Markets: The Empirical Evidence on Private Schools and School Choice." Tempe, AZ & Boulder, CO: EPRU and EPIC. Available: http://epsl.asu.edu/epru/ttreviews/EPSL-0709-241-EPRU.pdf

Lee, J. (2006). Generational Change: Closing the Achievement Gap. Teachers College Record [Online]. Available: http://www.tcrecord.org

National Grants

Co-Principal Investigator, Association for Institutional Research. High school pathways to postsecondary education destinations (2011–2012)

Principal Investigator, U.S. Department of Education, Research on Statistical and Research Methodology in Education Grant (2009–2011)

Principal Investigator, U.S. Department of Education, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Secondary Analysis Research Grant (2005–2007)

Co-Principal Investigator, U.S. Department of Education, Interagency Educational Research Initiative (IERI) Grant (2005–2010)

Principal Investigator, Harvard University Civil Rights Project/Southern Poverty Law Center, Racial Achievement Gap Research Grant (2004–2005)

Co-Principal Investigator, U.S. Department of Education, Reading Comprehension Research Grant (2004–2007)

Principal Investigator, National Science Foundation, Statewide Systemic Initiatives Research Grant (1999–2002)

Principal Investigator, U.S. Department of Education, NAEP Secondary Analysis Research Grant (1998–1999)

Principal Investigator, American Educational Research Association, Research Grant (1997–1999)