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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The graduate

 

From Fantasy to Action: Mental Contrasting With Implementation Intentions (MCII) Improves Academic Performance in Children

Angela Lee Duckworth et al.
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Abstract:
The current intervention tested whether a metacognitive self-regulatory strategy of goal pursuit can help economically disadvantaged children convert positive thoughts and images about their future into effective action. Mental contrasting with implementation intentions (MCII) entails mental contrasting a desired future with relevant obstacles of reality and forming implementation intentions (if-then plans) specifying when and where to overcome those obstacles. Seventy-seven 5th graders from an urban middle school were randomly assigned to learn either MCII or a Positive Thinking control strategy. Compared to children in the control condition, children taught how to apply MCII to their academic wishes and concerns significantly improved their report card grades (η2 = .07), attendance (η2 = .05), and conduct (η2 = .07). These findings suggest that MCII holds considerable promise for helping disadvantaged middle school children improve their academic performance.

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U.S. High School Graduation Rates: Patterns and Explanations

Richard Murnane
NBER Working Paper, January 2013

Abstract:
I survey the evidence on patterns in U.S. high school graduation rates over the period 1970-2010 and report the results of new research conducted to fill in holes in the evidence. I begin by pointing out the strengths and limitations of existing data sources. I then describe six striking patterns in graduation rates. They include stagnation over the last three decades of the twentieth century, significant race-, income-, and gender-based gaps, and significant increases in graduation rates over the first decade of the twenty-first century, especially among blacks and Hispanics. I then describe the models economists use to explain the decisions of individuals to invest in schooling, and examine the extent to which the parameters of the models explain recent patterns in graduation rates. I find that increases in the nonmonetary costs of completing high school and the increasing availability of the GED credential help to explain stagnation in the face of substantial gaps between the wages of high school graduates and school dropouts. I point out that there are several hypotheses, but to date, very little evidence to explain the increases in high school graduation rates over the first decade of the twenty-first century. I conclude by reviewing the evidence on effective strategies to increase high school graduation rates, and explaining why the causal evidence is quite modest.

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School competition and students' entrepreneurial intentions: International evidence using historical Catholic roots of private schooling

Oliver Falck & Ludger Woessmann
Small Business Economics, February 2013, Pages 459-478

Abstract:
School choice research mostly focuses on academic outcomes. Policymakers increasingly view entrepreneurial traits as a non-cognitive outcome important for economic growth. We use international PISA-2006 student-level data to estimate the effect of private-school competition on students' entrepreneurial intentions, measured by their occupational desire to manage a small enterprise. We exploit Catholic-Church resistance to state schooling in the 19th century as a natural experiment to obtain exogenous variation in current private-school shares. Our instrumental-variable results suggest that a 10%-point higher private-school share raises students' entrepreneurial intentions by 0.3-0.5% points (11-18% of the international mean) even after controlling for current Catholic shares, students' academic skills, and parents' entrepreneurial occupation.

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Does Federal Financial Aid Affect College Enrollment? Evidence from Drug Offenders and the Higher Education Act of 1998

Michael Lovenheim & Emily Owens
NBER Working Paper, February 2013

Abstract:
In 2001, amendments to the Higher Education Act made people convicted of drug offenses ineligible for federal financial aid for up to two years after their conviction. Using rich data on educational outcomes and drug charges in the NLSY 1997, we show that this law change had a large negative impact on the college attendance of students with drug convictions. On average, the temporary ban on federal financial aid increased the amount of time between high school graduation and college enrollment by about two years, and we also present suggestive evidence that affected students were less likely to ever enroll in college. Students living in urban areas and those whose mothers did not attend college appear to be the most affected by these amendments. Importantly, we do not find that the law deterred young people from committing drug felonies nor did it substantively change the probability that high school students with drug convictions graduated from high school. We find no evidence of a change in college enrollment of students convicted of non-drug crimes, or of those charged by not convicted of drug offenses. In contrast to much of the existing research, we conclude that, for this high-risk group of students, eligibility for federal financial aid strongly impacts college investment decisions.

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High School Exit Exams and Dropout in an Era of Increased Accountability

Steven Hemelt & Dave Marcotte
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, forthcoming

Abstract:
A key form of student-level accountability is the requirement for students to pass high school exit exams (HSEEs) in order to receive a diploma. In this paper, we examine the impact of HSEEs on dropout during a period when these exams became more common and rigorous. Further, we study whether offering alternate pathways to graduation for students who cannot pass HSEEs moderates any dropout effects. Using a district-grade-level panel assembled from the Common Core of Data, we exploit the fact that new exit exam policies first affect a particular graduating class, so we can isolate the impact of exposure to HSEEs for students in one grade in a district separate from other unaffected grades in the same district. We estimate dropout effects by grade for all students, and by race, sex, and urbanicity. We find that HSEEs increase dropout rates for students in the 12th grade, with especially large effects for African-American students. Dropout effects are uniformly larger in states that do not provide alternate pathways to receive a diploma or alternative credentials for students that cannot pass exit exams. We estimate that 1.25 percent of 12th graders in these states do not graduate with their high school class, likely due to having a diploma withheld because of inability to pass the requisite HSEE.

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Education Policy and Intergenerational Transfers in Equilibrium

Brant Abbott et al.
NBER Working Paper, February 2013

Abstract:
This paper compares partial and general equilibrium effects of alternative financial aid policies intended to promote college participation. We build an overlapping generations life-cycle, heterogeneous-agent, incomplete-markets model with education, labor supply, and consumption/saving decisions. Altruistic parents make inter vivos transfers to their children. Labor supply during college, government grants and loans, as well as private loans, complement parental transfers as sources of funding for college education. We find that the current financial aid system in the U.S. improves welfare, and removing it would reduce GDP by two percentage points in the long-run. Any further relaxation of government-sponsored loan limits would have no salient effects. The short-run partial equilibrium effects of expanding tuition grants (especially their need-based component) are sizeable. However, long-run general equilibrium effects are 3-4 times smaller. Every additional dollar of government grants crowds out 20-30 cents of parental transfers.

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Private Education in India: A Novel Test of Cream Skimming

Alexander Tabarrok
Contemporary Economic Policy, January 2013, Pages 1-12

Abstract:
Students in private schools routinely outperform those in public schools both in the United States and around the world. But do private schools make students better or do they simply cream skim better students? In this article I take advantage of the remarkable fact that in many districts in India a majority of students attend private schools. As the private share of school enrollment increases, cream skimming becomes less plausible as the explanation for a higher rate of achievement in private schools. Evidence for cream skimming is found when the private share of schooling is low, in the range of 0-15%, and thus private schools have a large public pool from which to skim. But the private effect on achievement does not appear to diminish greatly even in districts where more than 70% of students are in private schools. Most importantly, mean scores taken over the entire population of students, private and public, increase with the share of private schooling. These findings support a significant productivity effect of private schools.

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The Academic Effects of Summer Instruction and Retention in New York City

Louis Mariano & Paco Martorell
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, March 2013, Pages 96-117

Abstract:
This article examines the impacts of summer instruction and test-based grade retention in New York City. We use a research design that exploits test score cutoffs used in assignment to these treatments. We find modest positive effects of summer instruction on English language arts (ELA) achievement for students assigned to summer instruction because of poor ELA performance but find little evidence of positive effects of summer instruction on math outcomes. After netting out estimates of differential test score growth within grades across years, the estimated effects of grade retention are substantial and positive through seventh grade on both math and ELA outcomes, suggesting that the additional year of instruction in fifth grade leads to improvements in subsequent grade achievement.

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College as Country Club: Do Colleges Cater to Students' Preferences for Consumption?

Brian Jacob, Brian McCall & Kevin Stange
NBER Working Paper, January 2013

Abstract:
This paper investigates whether demand-side market pressure explains colleges' decisions to provide consumption amenities to their students. We estimate a discrete choice model of college demand using micro data from the high school classes of 1992 and 2004, matched to extensive information on all four-year colleges in the U.S. We find that most students do appear to value college consumption amenities, including spending on student activities, sports, and dormitories. While this taste for amenities is broad-based, the taste for academic quality is confined to high-achieving students. The heterogeneity in student preferences implies that colleges face very different incentives depending on their current student body and the students who the institution hopes to attract. We estimate that the elasticities implied by our demand model can account for 16 percent of the total variation across colleges in the ratio of amenity to academic spending, and including them on top of key observable characteristics (sector, state, size, selectivity) increases the explained variation by twenty percent.

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The Effect of Administrative Pay and Local Property Taxes on Student Achievement Scores: Evidence from New Jersey Public Schools

Yaw Mensah, Michael Schoderbek & Savita Sahay
Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
We theorized that student test score performance will be positively related to the percentage of school district revenues raised from local taxes and with salary levels of school district administrators. Using both fixed and random effects panel analyses, we examine data for 217 Kindergarten- to-Grade 12 school districts in New Jersey for the years 2002 to 2009. Our results support the inference that increases in the percent of school funds raised locally have a positive influence on student test scores. However, the results for our hypothesis involving administrative costs were mixed. Administrative salaries and administrative spending were found to be positively related to test score performance in the one-way time fixed effects model, but not in the two-way models. Finally, classroom spending and the student-faculty ratio were found to be positive and significant in some of the tests, although not robust to alternative specifications.

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Simplifying Tax Incentives and Aid for College: Progress and Prospects

Susan Dynarski, Judith Scott-Clayton & Mark Wiederspan
NBER Working Paper, January 2013

Abstract:
The application for federal student aid is longer than the tax returns filled out by the majority of US households. Research suggests that complexity in the aid process undermines its effectiveness in inducing more students into college. In 2008, an article in this journal showed that most of the data items in the aid application did not affect the distribution of aid, and that the much shorter set of variables available in IRS data could be used to closely replicate the existing distribution of aid. This added momentum to a period of discussion and activity around simplification in Congress and the US Department of Education. In this article, we provide a five-year retrospective of what's changed in the aid application process, what hasn't, and the possibilities for future reform. While there has been some streamlining in the process of applying for aid, it has fallen far short of its goals. Two dozen questions were removed from the aid application and a dozen added, reducing the number of questions from 127 to 116. Funding for college has also been complicated by the growth of a parallel system for aid: the tax system. A massive expansion in federal tax incentives for college, in particular the American Opportunity Tax Credit, has led to millions of households completing paperwork for both the IRS and the US Department of Education in order to qualify for college funding.

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Beyond the Master Plan: The Case for Restructuring Baccalaureate Education in California

Saul Geiser & Richard Atkinson
California Journal of Politics and Policy, January 2013, Pages 67-123

Abstract:
Although a stunning success in many ways, California's 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education has been a conspicuous failure in one respect: California ranks near the bottom of the states in the proportion of its college-age population that attains a baccalaureate degree. California's poor record of B.A. attainment is an unforeseen consequence of the Master Plan's restrictions on admission to 4-year baccalaureate institutions, limiting eligibility for the University of California and the state colleges (later the California State University) to the top eighth and top third, respectively, of the state's high school graduates. As a result, 2-year institutions have absorbed the vast majority of enrollment growth in California higher education since 1960, but 4-year enrollments have not kept pace. California now ranks last among the states in the proportion of its college students who attend a 4-year campus. The state's low rate of baccalaureate attainment is sometimes blamed on the failure of community colleges to produce more transfers, but comparison of higher education systems in other states reveals a more fundamental problem: California's 4-year sector is simply too small in relation to the size of its college-age population. The state urgently needs to expand 4-year enrollment capacity in order to improve baccalaureate attainment among the new, more diverse generation of Californians now reaching college age. Yet building expensive new 4-year campuses is an unlikely option given the state's fiscal outlook. The alternative is to restructure California's existing postsecondary system.

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Incentive Pay Programs Do Not Affect Teacher Motivation or Reported Practices: Results From Three Randomized Studies

Kun Yuan et al.
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, March 2013, Pages 3-22

Abstract:
This study drew on teacher survey responses from randomized experiments exploring three different pay-for-performance programs to examine the extent to which these programs motivated teachers to improve student achievement and the impact of such programs on teachers' instruction, number of hours worked, job stress, and collegiality. Results showed that most teachers did not report their program as motivating. Moreover, the survey responses suggest that none of the three programs changed teachers' instruction, increased their number of hours worked or job stress, or damaged their collegiality. Future research needs to further examine the logic model of pay-for-performance programs and test alternative incentive models such as rewarding teachers based on their practices and job responsibilities rather than on student outcomes.

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The Dynamics of Teacher Quality

Matthew Wiswall
Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
An extensive literature finds that while teachers vary considerably in initial quality there are limited teacher quality dynamics: except for the first few years of teaching, teacher quality does not improve over the course of a teacher's career. This study evaluates the importance of various modeling restrictions to the key findings of this literature. Using data covering all 5th grade public school teachers from the state of North Carolina, I replicate the findings of the previous literature using their restrictive experience assumptions. However, using an unrestricted experience model I find that for mathematics achievement there are high returns to later career teaching experience, about twice as much dispersion in initial teacher quality as previously estimated, and a pattern of negative selection where high quality teachers are more likely to exit.

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The Gateway to the Profession: Assessing Teacher Preparation Programs Based on Student Achievement

Dan Goldhaber, Stephanie Liddle & Roddy Theobald
Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
With teacher quality repeatedly cited as the most important schooling factor influencing student achievement, there has been increased interest in examining the efficacy of teacher training programs. This paper presents the results of research investigating the relationship between teachers who graduate from different training programs and student achievement on state reading and math tests. Using a novel methodology that allows teacher training effects to decay, we find that training institution indicators explain a statistically significant portion of the variation in student achievement in reading, but not in math. Moreover, there is evidence that graduates from some specific training programs are differentially effective at teaching reading than the average teacher trained out-of-state and that these differences are large enough to be educationally meaningful.

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Birthdays, Schooling, and Crime: New Evidence on the Dropout-Crime Nexus

Philip Cook & Songman Kang
NBER Working Paper, February 2013

Abstract:
Based on administrative data for five cohorts of public school children in North Carolina, we demonstrate that those born just after the cut date for starting school are likely to outperform those born just before in reading and math in middle school, and are less likely to be involved in juvenile delinquency. On the other hand, those born after the cut date are more likely to drop out of high school before graduation and commit a felony offense by age 19. We also present suggestive evidence that the higher dropout rate is due to the fact that youths born after the cut date have longer exposure to the legal possibility of dropping out. The "crime" and "dropout" differences are strong but somewhat muted by the fact that youths born just before the cut date are substantially more likely to be held back in school. We document considerable heterogeneity in educational and criminal outcomes by sex, race and other indicators of socioeconomic disadvantage.

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The bargaining power of teachers' unions and the allocation of school resources

Eric Brunner & Tim Squires
Journal of Urban Economics, forthcoming

Abstract:
This paper examines how district size affects the bargaining power of teachers' unions and the allocation of school resources. Our identification strategy exploits the fact that 33 states mandate collective bargaining while 5 states prohibited it. In states that mandate collective bargaining, we find that beginning salaries and the premium paid to experienced teachers increase with district size while the teacher-pupil ratio declines with district size. In contrast, in states that prohibit collective bargaining we find a negative relationship between district size and the premium paid to experienced teachers. District size also has a stronger positive effect on beginning salaries and a weaker negative effect on teacher-pupil ratios in states that prohibit collective bargaining. Collectively, our results suggest that more powerful unions bargain for more generous returns to teacher seniority at the expense of staffing ratios and base salaries.

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Does State Preschool Crowd-Out Private Provision? The Impact of Universal Preschool on the Childcare Sector in Oklahoma and Georgia

Daphna Bassok, Maria Fitzpatrick & Susanna Loeb
NBER Working Paper, December 2012

Abstract:
The success of any governmental subsidy depends on whether it increases or crowds out existing consumption. Yet to date there has been little empirical evidence, particularly in the education sector, on whether government intervention crowds out private provision. Universal preschool policies introduced in Georgia and Oklahoma offer an opportunity to investigate the impact of government provision and government funding on provision of childcare. Using synthetic control group difference-in-difference and interrupted time series estimation frameworks, we examine the effects of universal preschool on childcare providers. In both states there is an increase in the amount of formal childcare. In Georgia, both the private and public sectors grow, while in Oklahoma, the increase occurs in the public sector only. The differences likely stem from the states' choices of provision versus funding. We find the largest positive effects on provision in the most rural areas, a finding that may help direct policymaking efforts aimed at expanding childcare.

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Vocabulary learning in Head Start: Nature and extent of classroom instruction and its contributions to children's learning

Annemarie Hindman & Barbara Wasik
Journal of School Psychology, forthcoming

Abstract:
In the current study, we employed the 2006 cohort of the large-scale, nationally representative, Head Start Family and Child Experiences (FACES) dataset to construct a snapshot of vocabulary instruction and learning in high-poverty preschools. Specifically, we examined Head Start teachers' reports of the frequency of vocabulary instruction in their classrooms as well as the overall quality of their classroom instruction. We also explored the teacher- and center-level factors that predicted these dual aspects of instruction, and the role of that instruction in children's vocabulary development over the preschool year. Participants included 293 teachers in 116 Head Start centers, as well as 2501 children in their classrooms. Results showed that, whereas there was notable variation, most teachers reported providing a variety of vocabulary-focused instructional activities nearly every day. The quality of their classroom instruction was generally modest. Classroom instructional quality was predictive of children's vocabulary learning, with stronger relations apparent for children with lower initial skills and for classrooms with higher quality instruction. The frequency of instruction in vocabulary was not related to children's word learning. Results provide new descriptive data about the state of vocabulary instruction in Head Start preschools and highlight both areas of success and opportunities for additional support.

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Can Research Design Explain Variation in Head Start Research Results? A Meta-Analysis of Cognitive and Achievement Outcomes

Hilary Shager et al.
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, March 2013, Pages 76-95

Abstract:
This study explores the extent to which differences in research design explain variation in Head Start program impacts. We employ meta-analytic techniques to predict effect sizes for cognitive and achievement outcomes as a function of the type and rigor of research design, quality and type of outcome measure, activity level of control group, and attrition. Across program evaluations, the average program-level effect size was 0.27 standard deviations. About 41% of the variation in estimates across evaluations can be explained by research design features, including the extent to which the control group experienced other forms of early care or education, and 11% of the variation within programs can be explained by the quality and type of the outcome measures.

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New Evidence on the Impacts of Access to and Attending Universal Childcare in Canada

Michael Kottelenberg & Steven Lehrer
NBER Working Paper, February 2013

Abstract:
In Canada, advocates of universal child care often point to policies implemented in Quebec as providing a model for early education and care policies in other provinces. While these policies have proven to be incredibly popular among citizens, initial evaluations of access to these programs indicated they led to a multitude of undesirable child developmental, health and family outcomes. These research findings ignited substantial controversy and criticism. In this study, we show the robustness of the initial analyses to i) concerns over whether negative outcomes would vanish over time as suppliers gained experience providing child care, ii) concerns regarding multiple testing, and iii) concerns that the original test measured the causal impact of childcare availability and not child care attendance. A notable exception is that despite estimated effects stemming from the policy indicating declines in motor-social development scores in Quebec relative to the rest of Canada, our analyses imply that on average attending childcare in Canada leads to a significant increase in this test score. However, our analysis reveals substantial heterogeneity in program impacts that occur in response to the Quebec policies and indicates that most of the negative impacts reported in earlier research are driven by children from families who only attended childcare in response to the implementation of this policy.

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Preschool Center Quality and School Readiness: Quality Effects and Variation by Demographic and Child Characteristics

Tran Keys et al.
Child Development, forthcoming

Abstract:
This article examines associations between observed quality in preschool center classrooms for approximately 6,250 three- to five-year-olds and their school readiness skills at kindergarten entry. Secondary analyses were conducted using data from four large-scale studies to estimate the effects of preschool center quality and interactions between quality and demographic characteristics and child entry skills and behaviors. Findings were summarized across studies using meta-analytic methods. Results indicate small, but statistically significant associations for preschool center quality main effects on language and mathematics outcomes with little evidence of moderation by demographic characteristics or child entry skills and behaviors. Preschool center quality was not reliably related to socioemotional outcomes. The authors discuss possible explanations for the small effect sizes and lack of differential effects.

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Evaluating the provision of school performance information for school choice

Rebecca Allena & Simon Burgess
Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract:
We develop and implement a framework for determining the optimal performance metrics to help parents choose a school. This approach combines the three major critiques of the usefulness of performance tables into a natural metric. We implement this for 500,000 students in England for a range of performance measures. Using performance tables is strongly better than choosing at random: a child who attends the highest ex ante performing school within their choice set will ex post do better than the average outcome in their choice set twice as often as they will do worse.

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Tracing the Effects of Guaranteed Admission through the College Process: Evidence from a Policy Discontinuity in the Texas 10% Plan

Jason Fletcher & Adalbert Mayer
NBER Working Paper, January 2013

Abstract:
The Texas 10% law states that students who graduated among the top 10% of their high school class are guaranteed admission to public universities in Texas. We estimate the causal effects of this admissions guarantee on a sequence of connected decisions: students' application behavior, admission decisions by the university, students' enrollment choices conditional on admission; as well as the resulting college achievement. We identify these effects by comparing students just above and just below the top 10% rank cutoff. While this design is in the spirit of a regression discontinuity, we note important differences in approach and interpretation. We find that students react to incentives created by the admissions guarantee - for example, by reducing applications to competing private universities. The results also suggest that the effects of the admissions guarantee depend on the university and the type of students it attracts, and that the law is binding and alters the decisions of the admissions committees. We find little evidence that the law increases diversity or leads to meaningful mismatch for the marginal student admitted.

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Closing and Opening Schools: The Association between Neighborhood Characteristics and the Location of New Educational Opportunities in a Large Urban District

Julia Burdick-Will, Micere Keels & Todd Schuble
Journal of Urban Affairs, February 2013, Pages 59-80

Abstract:
New charter schools can potentially provide disenfranchised students with enhanced academic opportunities while simultaneously serving as neighborhood anchors that reinforce neighborhood socioeconomic growth. However, for both of these arguments to be true, charter schools would have to replace low-performing public schools in currently disadvantaged, but revitalizing, neighborhoods. Using data from the Chicago Public Schools, the Common Core, and the Census, we examine the neighborhood and school-level factors that account for where elementary schools closed and opened in Chicago during the late 1990s and 2000s. We find that schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods were more likely to close, but only because these were also underperforming and under-enrolled schools. After controlling for educational demand, new schools were more likely to open in neighborhoods that showed signs of socioeconomic revitalization and declining proportions of white residents.

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Part C Early Intervention for Infants and Toddlers: Percentage Eligible Versus Served

Steven Rosenberg et al.
Pediatrics, January 2013, Pages 38 -46

Objective: Part C early intervention is a nationwide program that serves infants and toddlers who have developmental delays. Previous research has revealed that large numbers of candidates for Part C services do not receive early intervention. Current eligibility criteria for Part C services vary from state to state. This article compares estimates of the percentage of children who are likely to be eligible for early intervention in each state and Washington, DC, with the proportion of children who are served in each of those jurisdictions.

Methods: Data for this study were obtained from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey-Birth Cohort. Using these data, we computed the proportion of children who would be eligible based on the numerical eligibility definitions currently in use across the United States.

Results: This study revealed the proportion of infants and toddlers likely to be eligible for Part C services ranges from 2% to 78% across the United States. The proportion of children enrolled in Part C ranges from 1.48% to 6.96%.

Conclusions: This research documented substantial variability in the proportion of children who are likely to be eligible for Part C services. Most states have adopted eligibility definitions that make many more children candidates for Part C early intervention than they serve. However, current rates of enrollment are insufficient to serve all children with delays that fall under 2 SDs below the mean on any of the 5 developmental domains that are required to be evaluated by Part C regulations.

By KEVIN LEWIS | 09:00:00 AM