W. Jesse Wood

W. Jesse Wood

PhD Candidate in Economics

Michigan State University


I am a Ph.D. student in economics at Michigan State University and will be on the 2022 job market. My research interests include economics of education, policy analysis, applied econometrics, public economics and labor economics.

I am a research assistant for the Education Policy Innovation Collaborative under Dr. Katharine Strunk. My work has focused on how student achievement varies under changes to the number of new school openings, availability of school choice and mobility, and exposure to different teacher quality.


  • PhD in Economics, Expected 2022

    Michigan State University

  • MA in Economics, 2016

    University of Texas - Austin

  • BSc in Applied Mathematics, 2015

    Auburn University

Working Papers

Are Effective Teachers for Students with Disabilities Effective Teachers for All?

Faculty Race Match Effect on Student Achievement

This paper estimates the impact of race matched faculty (i.e. any teacher outside of a particular student’s classroom) on a student’s math test score. Using administrative panel data between school years 2008-09 through 2017-18 from Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), we estimate that Latinx and White students see positive impacts of race matched faculty. By basing our study in LAUSD, which has a large proportion of Latinx students and teachers, we are able to fill a gap within the literature by examining the effects of race match and faculty race match on Latinx students. Our findings indicate that matching Latinx students to racially congruent teachers and faculty improve math test scores by 0.005 standard deviations. Increasing the supply of Latinx teachers may provide as a crucial catalyst in decreasing the achievement gaps found between Latinx and White students.

Old School or New School? Effects of School Openings on Student Outcomes in a Degregulated Education Market

Proponents of school choice argue that deregulating public education would allow for new firms to enter the market, generating competitive pressure on existing schools to increase educational quality. Although there exists a large school choice literature evaluating whether competitive pressure, created by more schooling options, leads to achievement gains, little attention has been paid to the direct effect of introducing new schools to the marketplace on student outcomes. This study provides some of the first evidence concerning the effects of school openings in a deregulated market. Specifically, we study school openings in Michigan where students can participate in interdistrict, intradistrict, and charter school choice. Furthermore, no caps exist for the number of charter schools or the number of students who can attend a school outside of their resident district, and universities and colleges can authorize charter schools anywhere in the state. In fact, there have been over 500 school openings in the past decade, a third of which have been charter schools. Thus, this setting provides the ideal situation to evaluate whether market induced changes in the supply of schools increase achievement. In accordance with prior literature concerning newly built schools, our preliminary results suggest that students who attend newly opened schools experience a decrease in achievement in the first year the school is open with increases in test scores in future years. These results may imply that new schools, whether or not they are located in new buildings, may need extra support in the first year from their district or management organization in order to offset the initial negative effects of school openings.