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When Scott Wynne ’02 learned that New York State would be giving eighth-graders a standardized mathematics proficiency test, he wondered whether students from wealthier school districts would fare better than those from poorer ones.

Wynne, a joint mathematics and economics major from Valhalla, N.Y., did preliminary research on the relationship between test scores and per-pupil spending in 40 school districts for an economics class during the spring 2001 semester. He found that students from districts that spent more did score higher on the test.

“When I received positive results from that study, I thought that further and more intense research of this topic would be very interesting,” he says. “I’m now looking at all of the school districts in the state and have added a few more variables to help solidify my argument. I hope that my results will be able to help school districts determine whether their students would benefit from an increase in expenditures.”

Wynne, who is conducting the research for his senior honors thesis, has also collected data on each school district’s average class size, geographic location, ranking on the Census Poverty Index, and rate of school-age residents with disabilities.

“I have been interested in the field of education for a long time now,” Wynne says. “I have always wanted to be a math and/or economics teacher, but also had a strong desire to do some kind of research in those fields.”

Wynne has taken every available education course at Lafayette and has qualified for secondary education certification in New York State.

Sheila Handy, assistant professor of economics and business and Wynne’s primary thesis adviser, says he is highly motivated. “He’s so far ahead of where the average student would be,” she says. “He’s very focused and he’s very, very organized.”

For his part, Wynne says Handy has been helpful and supportive. “She has been an invaluable asset to me by providing support, ideas, and references to places and people I would never have thought to look into,” he says. “She is definitely highly qualified and is extremely knowledgeable about the topic that I’m studying.”

Wynne adds that he’s found “a nurturing academic environment” at Lafayette.

“The faculty is always open to new research ideas and is extremely welcoming to questions and to providing assistance when needed,” he says. “I don’t think there is a place more open to having its students excel in fields that interest them and they care to pursue.”

Wynne serves as head resident adviser of South College, co-chair of the Resident Adviser Recruitment Committee, and president and vocal director of the Marquis Players. He also is a grading assistant for the economics department and a member of the campus chapter of Omicron Delta Epsilon, the honorary society for economics. He also is a former member of the Residence Hall Council.

Categorized in: Academic News