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

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


"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.

"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.
"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.