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Monday, May 14, 2012

A Matter of Degree

 

The teaching penalty in higher education: Evidence from a Public Research University

Melissa Binder et al.
Economics Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article investigates whether faculty members are rewarded for teaching. We find that teaching a wider variety of courses and devoting more time to teaching results in a significant wage penalty, even when research productivity is carefully controlled.

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The Role of Application Assistance and Information in College Decisions: Results from the H&R Block FAFSA Experiment

Eric Bettinger et al.
Quarterly Journal of Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Growing concerns about low awareness and take-up rates for government support programs like college financial aid have spurred calls to simplify the application process and enhance visibility. We present results from a randomized field experiment in which low-income individuals receiving tax preparation help were also offered immediate assistance and a streamlined process to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for themselves or their children. Treated participants were also provided with aid estimates that were compared against tuition cost amounts for nearby colleges. The combined assistance and information treatment substantially increased FAFSA submissions and ultimately the likelihood of college attendance, persistence, and aid receipt. In particular, high school seniors whose parents received the treatment were 8 percentage points more likely to have completed two years of college, going from 28 to 36 percent, during the first three years following the experiment. Families who received aid information but no assistance with the FAFSA did not experience improved outcomes. The findings suggest many other opportunities for using personal assistance to increase participation in programs that require filling out forms to become eligible.

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Good schools make good neighbors: Human capital spillovers in early 20th century agriculture

John Parman
Explorations in Economic History, forthcoming

Abstract:
Formal schooling has a significant impact on modern agricultural productivity but there is little evidence quantifying the historical importance of schools in the early development of the American agricultural sector. I present new data from the Midwest at the start of the twentieth century showing that the emerging public schools were helping farmers successfully adapt to a variety of agricultural innovations. I use a unique dataset of farmers containing detailed geographical information to estimate both the private returns to schooling and human capital spillovers across neighboring farms. The results indicate that public schools contributed substantially to agricultural productivity at the turn of the century and that a large portion of this contribution came through human capital spillovers. These findings offer new insights into why the Midwest was a leader in the expansion of secondary education.

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On The Political Economy Of Educational Vouchers

Dennis Epple & Richard Romano
NBER Working Paper, April 2012

Abstract:
Two significant challenges hamper analyses of collective choice of educational vouchers. One is the multi-dimensional choice set arising from the interdependence of the voucher, public education spending, and taxation. The other is that household preferences between public and private schooling vary with the policy chosen. Even absent a voucher, preferences over public spending are not single-peaked; a middling level of public school spending may be less attractive to a household than either high public school spending or private education coupled with low public spending. We show that Besley and Coate's (1997) representative democracy provides a viable approach to overcome these hurdles. We provide a complete characterization of equilibrium with an endogenous voucher. We undertake a parallel quantitative analysis. For income distributions exhibiting substantial heterogeneity, such as the U.S. distribution, we find that no voucher arises in equilibrium. For tighter income distributions, however, a voucher arises. For example, with the income distribution of Douglas County, Colorado, where a voucher was recently adopted, our model predicts a positive voucher. Public support for a not-to-large voucher arises because the cross subsidy to public school expenditure from those switching to private schools outweighs the subsidy to those that attend private school without a voucher.

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Pennies from heaven? Using exogenous tax variation to identify effects of school resources on pupil achievement

Torbjørn Hægeland, Oddbjørn Raaum & Kjell Salvanes
Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Evidence on the effectiveness of school inputs remains inconclusive, partly due to the challenge of identification as families sort themselves into school districts and resources are potentially allocated to compensate (or reinforce) differences in pupil abilities. Using variation in school resources induced by the location of waterfalls in Norway, we examine the effect of school expenditures on pupil performance at age 16. Higher school expenditures, triggered by higher revenues from local taxes on hydropower plants, have a significantly positive effect on pupil performance. This positive IV estimate contrasts a zero effect based on least squares. A downward biased estimate using a standard cross section estimator is expected in a context of compensating resource allocation across educational units.

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A New Test of Borrowing Constraints for Education

Meta Brown, John Karl Scholz & Ananth Seshadri
Review of Economic Studies, April 2012, Pages 511-538

Abstract:
We discuss a simple model in which parents and children make investments in the children's education and investments for other purposes and parents can transfer cash to their children. We show that for an identifiable set of parent-child pairs, parents will rationally underinvest in their child's education. For these parent-child pairs, additional financial aid will increase educational attainment. The model highlights an important feature of higher education finance, the "expected family contribution" (EFC) that is based on income, assets, and other factors. The EFC is neither legally guaranteed nor universally offered: our model identifies the set of families that are disproportionately likely to not provide their full EFC. Using a common proxy for financial aid, we show, in data from the Health and Retirement Study, that financial aid increases the educational attainment of children whose families are more likely than others to underinvest in education. Financial aid has no effect on the educational attainment of children in other families. The theory and empirical evidence identifies a set of children who face quantitatively important borrowing constraints for higher education.

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School Turnarounds: Evidence from the 2009 Stimulus

Thomas Dee
NBER Working Paper, April 2012

Abstract:
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) targeted substantial School Improvement Grants (SIGs) to the nation's "persistently lowest achieving" public schools (i.e., up to $2 million per school annually over 3 years) but required schools accepting these awards to implement a federally prescribed school-reform model. Schools that met the "lowest-achieving" and "lack of progress" thresholds within their state had prioritized eligibility for these SIG-funded interventions. Using data from California, this study leverages these two discontinuous eligibility rules to identify the effects of SIG-funded whole-school reforms. The results based on these "fuzzy" regression-discontinuity designs indicate that there were significant improvements in the test-based performance of schools on the "lowest-achieving" margin but not among schools on the "lack of progress" margin. Complementary panel-based estimates suggest that these improvements were largely concentrated among schools adopting the federal "turnaround" model, which compels more dramatic staff turnover.

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School choice and perceived school quality

David Brasington & Diane Hite
Economics Letters, forthcoming

Abstract:
School choice - school vouchers, open enrollment, tuition tax credits and charter schools - reduce the cost of sending children to a school different than their assignment. Previous literature shows support for school choice is weaker in objectively high-performing school districts. We show that people's opinions about school quality matter at least as much as objective measures like proficiency tests. We find support for school choice is lower when people think their assigned public school district is good (or even the typical public school district in the state); support for choice is higher when people think their nearest private school is good.

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Value Added of Teachers in High-Poverty Schools and Lower Poverty Schools

Tim Sass et al.
Journal of Urban Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using student-level microdata from 2000-2001 to 2004-2005 from Florida and North Carolina, we compare the effectiveness of teachers in schools serving primarily students from low-income families (>70% free-and-reduced-price-lunch students) with teachers in schools serving more advantaged students. The results show that the average effectiveness of teachers in high poverty schools is in general less than teachers in other schools and there is significantly greater variation in teacher quality among high poverty schools. These differences are largely driven by less productive teachers at the bottom of the teacher effectiveness distribution in high-poverty schools. The bulk of the quality differential is due to differences in the unmeasured characteristics of teachers. We find that the gain in productivity to more experienced teachers from additional experience is much stronger in lower-poverty schools. The lower return to experience in high-poverty schools does not appear to be a result of differences in the quality of teachers who leave teaching or who switch schools, however. Our findings suggest that measures that induce highly effective teachers to move to high-poverty schools and which promote an environment in which teachers' skills will improve over time are more likely to be successful.

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Teacher salary and national achievement: A cross-national analysis of 30 countries

Motoko Akiba et al.
International Journal of Educational Research, forthcoming

Abstract:
Using national teacher salary data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and student achievement data from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), this study compared secondary school teacher salary in 30 countries and examined the relationship between average teacher salary and national achievement in mathematics and science. Although new teachers in the U.S. are paid higher than the international average, U.S. investment to the salary of experienced teachers was lower than the international average. The study also found that the countries with higher average salary for experienced teachers are more likely to have higher national achievement. However, the national average salary for new teachers was not significantly associated with national achievement level.

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Potential for Significant Reductions in Dropout Rates: Analysis of an Entire 3rd Grade State Cohort

Dorothyjean Cratty
Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
This study follows the entire class of 1997-98 first-time 3rd grade students who stayed in the North Carolina public school system until either dropping out or graduating. Of those 68,401 students, 19.3% (or 13,185) dropped out. A series of logits are used to predict probabilities of dropping out of high school on determinants such as math and reading test scores, absenteeism, suspension, and retention, at each of the following grade levels: 3rd, 5th, 8th, and 9th. The same cohort and variables are then used to estimate benefits to the 15,737 students admitted to a special program ostensibly for academically and intellectually gifted children. I estimate the probability of admission for schoolmates with similar ability in math and reading to be substantially higher for those from upper income households. Finally, I conclude that extending similar resources to an equal number of high-risk students, as determined by their 3rd grade predicted probabilities, would lead to a 25% reduction in the total cohort dropout rate, and that even dividing existing resources between the two groups could cut dropout rates by half that.

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Outcomes of Placing Low Performing Eighth Grade Students in Algebra Content Courses

Donald Taylor
University of California Dissertation, 2011

Abstract:
In California, Algebra I is the 8th grade math content standard. The United States Department of Education found the annual 8th grade General Math California Standards Test to be out of compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 since it assesses 6th and 7th grade math standards and not Algebra I math content. In response to the federal citation, the California State Board of Education passed an 8th grade math policy that requires all students to take the Algebra California Standards Test, thereby mandating Algebra I math content for all 8th grade students. This study seeks to understand what impact this policy may have on math performance among the lowest performing math students. I analyze administrative data from three cohorts of students that attended a large, diverse, urban California school district from the 7th to 9th grade during the 2001-2002 to 2005-2006 school years. Employing a series of descriptive analyses I compare those students in the lower tenth percentile on the 7th grade math California Standards Test to those in the upper ninetieth percentile by key characteristics and math course types. I then track these students from the 7th to the 9th grade to determine linked math course promotional patterns over time. Selecting only those students that performed in the lower tenth percentile on the 7th grade math California Standards Test, students are classified by their 8th grade General Math Only and Algebra Only math course placements. I employ Ordinary Least Squares regression to determine the relationship between math course type and students' 8th grade General Math California Standards Test and math-specific GPA outcomes. Among the lowest performing math students, the General Math California Standards Test is assigned to 99.4% of students. Hispanics, African Americans, Special Education, English Language Learners lower SES students and male students are more likely to fall in this group. Math course placement appears to be policy-driven toward placement in algebra content courses rather than driven by the student's math skills. Any algebra course content increases the likelihood of repeating the math course level. As the algebra course content becomes more rigorous, on average, the likelihood of repeating the math course level increases. Eighth grade math course placement does predict General Math California Standards Test scores, however the effect is mediated when controlling for other factors and disappears when accounting for school differences. Eighth grade algebra course placement is statistically significantly negatively related (p < .01) to 8th grade math-specific GPA. The predicted negative relationship is approximately equivalent to reducing the student's math-specific GPA from a C to a C-, or about eight percent. Although placement in algebra courses as soon as possible may remain a goal to ensure that students are not tracked out of college placement, students should be allowed to take general math courses to improve math skills and improve their math grade outcomes. Districts and schools should not be penalized in their API calculation if their 8th grade students take the General Math CST. Such a policy incentivizes a lack of differentiated math content and so does not accommodate the math skills of the lowest performing students. Repeating algebra courses should not be judged as failure. Lengthening algebra content courses over several years may be appropriate for some low performing students since repeated exposure may have the effect of improving their long-term math competence.

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The Micropolitics of Implementing a School-Based Bonus Policy: The Case of New York City's Compensation Committees

Julie Marsh
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, June 2012, Pages 164-184

Abstract:
This article examines the micropolitics of implementing New York City's Schoolwide Performance Bonus Program and school governance bodies (Compensation Committees) that determined distribution of school-level rewards among personnel. Drawing on a two-year, mixed-methods study, the author finds that although most participants surveyed described a democratic process, case data suggest that principals sometimes overtly and covertly exercised power to shape decisions. The author finds that egalitarian norms, macro-political pressures, the tendency to suppress conflict, and policy design explain why most committees developed equal-share distribution plans even though a significant proportion of members favored some differentiation. The article illuminates the challenges of engaging stakeholders in incentive program design and affirms the value of combining political and sociological perspectives to understand education policy implementation.

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Academic Achievement, Technology and Race: Experimental Evidence

Robert Fairlie
Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
Although a large literature explores the achievement gap between minority and non-minority students, very little is known about whether disparities in access to technology are partly responsible. Data from the first-ever field experiment involving the random provision of free computers to low-income community college students for home use are used to explore whether home computers are beneficial to minority students. I find that minority students receiving free computers achieved better educational outcomes than the control group that did not receive free computers. Minority students may have benefitted more from receiving free computers because of fewer alternatives for accessing home computers due to lower rates of computer ownership among family, friends, and relatives. Implications for the achievement gap and policy are discussed.

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The Sorting Effect of Charter Schools on Student Composition in Traditional Public Schools

Yongmei Ni
Educational Policy, March 2012, Pages 215-242

Abstract:
This article investigates how Michigan's charter school policy influences the composition of students by race and socioeconomic status in urban traditional public schools. Using 2 years of student-level data in Michigan's urban elementary and middle schools, the dynamic student transfers between charter schools and TPSs are analyzed through a series of hierarchical generalized linear models. The two-way transfer analysis shows that the student sorting under the charter school program tends to intensify the isolation of disadvantaged students in less effective urban schools serving a high concentration of similarly disadvantaged students. The findings imply that a challenge for the state policy makers is to help disadvantaged students who are left behind in the most disadvantaged schools, without significantly reducing the benefits to students who take advantage of school choice.

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Is Choice a Panacea? An Analysis of Black Secondary Student Attrition from KIPP, Other Private Charters, and Urban Districts

Julian Vasquez Heilig et al.
Berkeley Review of Education, Fall 2011, Pages 153-178

Abstract:
Public concern about pervasive inequalities in traditional public schools, combined with growing political, parental, and corporate support, has created the expectation that charter schools are the solution for educating minorities, particularly Black youth. There is a paucity of research on the educational attainment of Black youth in privately operated charters, particularly on the issue of attrition. This paper finds that on average peer urban districts in Texas show lower incidence of Black student dropouts and leavers relative to charters. The data also show that despite the claims that 88-90% of the children attending KIPP charters go on to college, their attrition rate for Black secondary students surpasses that of their peer urban districts. And this is in spite of KIPP spending 30-60% more per pupil than comparable urban districts. The analyses also show that the vast majority of privately operated charter districts in Texas serve very few Black students.

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Training Your Own: The Impact of New York City's Aspiring Principals Program on Student Achievement

Sean Corcoran, Amy Ellen Schwartz & Meryle Weinstein
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, June 2012, Pages 232-253

Abstract:
The New York City Leadership Academy represents a unique experiment by a large urban school district to train and develop its own school leaders. Its 14-month Aspiring Principals Program (APP) selects and prepares aspiring principals to lead low-performing schools. This study provides the first systematic evaluation of achievement in APP-staffed schools after 3 or more years. We examine differences between APP principals and those advancing through other routes, the extent to which APP graduates serve and remain in schools, and their relative performance in mathematics and English language arts. On balance, we find that APP principals performed about as well as other new principals. If anything, they narrowed the gap with comparison schools in English language arts but lagged behind in mathematics.

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Mobility, Housing Markets, and Schools: Estimating the Effects of Inter-District Choice Programs

Eric Brunner, Sung-Woo Cho & Randall Reback
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
In theoretical models of residential sorting, a household's location decision is closely linked to its demand for local public services, such as schooling. Since school choice programs weaken the link between residential location and schooling options, they have the potential to affect both property values and residential location choices. Results derived from computable general equilibrium models suggest these effects could be large, but there is limited empirical evidence concerning whether they actually occur. This paper develops and tests predictions concerning the impact of inter-district choice programs on housing values and residential location decisions. Our empirical results strongly confirm our theoretical predictions and the findings of the computable general equilibrium literature: after their states adopt inter-district choice programs, districts with desirable nearby, out-of-district schooling options experience relatively large increases in housing values, residential income, and population density.

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Is the Persistence of Teacher Effects in Early Grades Larger for Lower-Performing Students?

Spyros Konstantopoulos & Min Sun
American Journal of Education, May 2012, Pages 309-339

Abstract:
We examined the persistence of teacher effects from grade to grade on lower-performing students using data from Project STAR. Teacher effects were computed as residual classroom achievement within schools. Teacher effects in one grade predicted achievement in following grades using quantile regression. Results consistently indicated that all students benefited similarly from teachers, and differential teacher effects were not evident. Overall, lower-performing students benefit as much as other students from teachers except in fourth grade, where lower-performing students benefit more. Having effective teachers in successive grades seems beneficial to lower-performing students in mathematics and reading. However, having low-effective teachers in successive grades is detrimental to all students especially in mathematics.

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Shining a Light or Fumbling in the Dark? The Effects of NCLB's Subgroup-Specific Accountability on Student Achievement

Douglas Lee Lauen & Michael Gaddis
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, June 2012, Pages 185-208

Abstract:
The theory of action behind the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is that "shining a light" on subgroup performance will increase reading and math test scores for minority and disadvantaged students. Using a panel of all students in Grades 3 through 8 in North Carolina from 2000 to 2008 (N = 1.7 million students in 1,800 schools), the authors estimate double- and triple-differenced models with school fixed effects to examine whether subgroup-specific accountability threats increase high-stakes test scores. These sanctions are found to have positive effects for minority and disadvantaged students. Larger positive effects emerge for the lowest achieving schools rather than schools near the margin of passing. Some evidence of adverse effects is also found for low and high achievers in math, but not in reading, a finding attributed to the combination of increases in the rigor of state standards in math and responses to an accountability metric based on test score status rather than growth. The implications of the findings for the design of educational accountability systems are discussed.

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Are More Stringent NCLB State Accountability Systems Associated With Better Student Outcomes? An Analysis of NAEP Results Across States

Xin Wei
Educational Policy, March 2012, Pages 268-308

Abstract:
This study developed a comprehensive measure of the stringency level of NCLB states' accountability systems, including the strength of their annual measurable objectives, confidence intervals, performance indexing, retesting, minimum subgroup size, and the difficulty levels of proficiency standards. This study related accountability stringency in 2003 to student achievement and achievement gaps on NAEP math and reading tests from 2003 and 2005. The results were inconsistent across grades, subjects, and ethnic groups. An increase in accountability stringency, such as requiring faster progress, not allowing for retesting, and allowing a smaller minimum subgroup size were related to improved math achievement for fourth-grade Hispanic students. Not using confidence intervals was related to higher math and reading achievement for White and Hispanic students. However, accountability stringency did not have any positive effects and even negative effects on eighth-grade Black students.

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Explaining Variation in Instructional Time: An Application of Quantile Regression

Douglas Lyman Corey et al.
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, June 2012, Pages 146-163

Abstract:
This research is conducted in the context of a large-scale study of three nationally disseminated comprehensive school reform projects (CSRs) and examines how school- and classroom-level factors contribute to variation in instructional time in English language arts and mathematics. When using mean-based OLS regression techniques such as Hierarchical Linear Models (HLM), we found that CSR programs did not have the expected effects on instructional time. However, when using Quantile Regression to estimate the effects at the lower end of the distribution of instructional time, we found substantial effects. These effects were strongest for the subjects that were the focus of the school interventions.

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Instructional Alignment under No Child Left Behind

Morgan Polikoff
American Journal of Education, May 2012, Pages 341-368

Abstract:
The alignment of instruction with the content of standards and assessments is the key mediating variable separating the policy of standards-based reform (SBR) from the outcome of improved student achievement. Few studies have investigated SBR's effects on instructional alignment, and most have serious methodological limitations. This research uses content analyses of state standards and assessments and survey data on more than 27,000 teachers' instruction in mathematics, science, and English/language arts (ELA) to investigate changes in instructional alignment between 2003 and 2009. Fixed-effects models indicate that alignment in grades K-12 mathematics increased by approximately 0.19-0.65 standard deviations, depending on the grade and target. Alignment also increased to grades K-12 standards in ELA and grades 3-8 standards in science, though the magnitudes were smaller. Multiple alternative specifications support the findings of increased alignment. Implications for research and SBR policy are discussed.

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Hometown Disadvantage? It Depends on Where You're From: Teachers' Location Preferences and the Implications for Staffing Schools

Michelle Reininger
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, June 2012, Pages 127-145

Abstract:
This article focuses on an overlooked factor in the unequal sorting of teachers across schools: the geographic preferences of teachers. Using data from the National Education Longitudinal Study, the author examines the patterns of geographic mobility of new teachers and compares them to the patterns of other college graduates. Specifically, the author demonstrates that teachers' preference for working close to where they grew up is a distinct characteristic of teachers, and the author further explores the implications of those preferences for schools facing chronic shortages of teachers. The author finds that the local nature of the labor force and the differential rates of graduation and production of teachers from traditionally hard-to-staff schools are reinforcing existing deficits of local teacher labor supply.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM