Elizabeth Covay

I am the Research Director for the Michigan Consortium for Educational Research at the College of Education, Michigan State University. I completed my PhD in Sociology at the University of Notre Dame in May 2010. I recently completed an IES postdoctoral fellowship in education policy and methods. I joined the PATHWAYS programme in October 2012.

I am interested in exploring the racial and social class differences in student learning experiences and how those learning experiences may help explain the racial and social class differences in achievement. I looks at student experiences in multiple ways, examining differences in student course taking and the classroom instruction that students receive. My research focuses on what is going on in the classroom, since the classroom is where most of the school-related learning experiences occur and also where interventions and policies can be implemented.

Research Plan

My research agenda involves focusing on student inequality in access to and returns from various forms of learning opportunities. Most recently, I was awarded a Measure Effective Teaching (MET) Early Career Grant. This grant provides me with access to the MET Longitudinal Database. My project will examine the differential effects of instruction on student achievement. The MET data have multiple objective measures of instruction, which will allow me to examine the type of instruction that is most/least beneficial for which students. I will examine the differential effects of instruction by student race and income group.


Measuring Effective Teaching (MET) Early Career Research Grant ($25,000), ICPSR and the National Academy of Education, March 2013-March 2014.


Peer-Review Journal Articles

Covay, E. (2013). Review of Integration Interrupted: Tracking, Black Students & Acting White After Brown by Karolyn Tyson and Kids Don’t Want to Fail: Oppositional Culture and the Black-White Achievement Gap by Angel L. Harris. Social Forces, 92(1):407-411.

Carbonaro, William, Brandy J. Ellison, & Elizabeth Covay. 2011. "Gender Inequalities in the College Pipeline." Social Science Research 40(1): 120-135.

Carbonaro, William & Elizabeth Covay. 2010. "School Sector and Student Achievement in the Era of Standards Based Reforms." Sociology of Education 83(2):160-182.

Covay, Elizabeth & William Carbonaro. 2010. "After the Bell: Participation in Extracurricular Activities, Classroom Behavior, and Academic Achievement." Sociology of Education 83(1):20-45.

Encyclopedia Entries

Kelly, Sean & Elizabeth Covay. 2008. "Curriculum Tracking: Reviewing the Evidence on a Controversial but Resilient Educational Policy." In 21st Century Education: A Reference Handbook, edited by Thomas Good. Sage.