Robert M. Costrell is Professor of Education Reform and Economics and holds the Endowed Chair in Education Accountability at the University of Arkansas. His areas of expertise include standards-based reform, school finance, and teacher pensions.
Professor Costrell has both an academic and policy-making background. He was a member of the economics department of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst from 1978 to 2006. His academic career has featured seminal publications on the economic theory of educational standards, as well as the theory of income distribution and testing. These have appeared in the top economics journals, such as the American Economic Review and the Journal of Political Economy. He has also written on education policy and finance for general audiences in journals such as Brookings Papers on Education Policy and Education Next.
From 1999 to 2006, Dr. Costrell served in major policy roles for three governors of Massachusetts, including policy research director and chief economist. He worked closely with the governors and the commissioner of education throughout this critical period, when Massachusetts' accountability reforms, based on exit exams, went into effect. As education advisor to Governor Mitt Romney, he helped develop the governor’s comprehensive education reform proposal of 2005, and also led the reforms of the state’s district funding formula adopted in 2006 and charter funding formula in 2004. In 2003, Dr. Costrell’s extensive expert testimony in Massachusetts’ school finance case (Hancock v. Driscoll) proved critical to the successful defense of that state's education reform program. He represented the administration on the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission (2001-03) and the Massachusetts School Building Authority (2005-06).
Dr. Costrell has served on the Steering Committee to develop an economics assessment for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (2001-02), and the U.S. Department of Education’s Advisory Council on Education Statistics, appointed by Secretary Paige (2001-02). He was recently appointed by Secretary Spellings to serve on the National Technical Advisory Council.
Professor Costrell joined the faculty at the University of Arkansas in August 2006. His current research topics include teacher pension policy, fiscal impact of school choice, longitudinal analysis of student achievement, and methodologies for school funding estimation.
Professor Costrell received his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University in 1978 and his B.A. in economics from the University of Michigan in 1972.