Educational Games

Kevin Lewis

May 22, 2023

"There Was Nothing Here": School Leaders Using Dual Language Bilingual Education Programs as a Formula to Re-Engineer Student Populations for School Turnaround
Kate Menken, Ivana Espinet & Sharon Avni
Educational Policy, forthcoming 


New York City offers an example of the national trend to expand dual language bilingual education (DLBE) programs, yet only a small proportion of multilingual learners are enrolled in these programs in city schools. Our examination of new DLBE programs in three city schools builds on research about the "gentrification" of DLBE. Specifically, our findings show how school leaders opened DLBE programs to re-engineer the demographics of their student population by enrolling more White, privileged students in the name of "school turnaround" -- namely, to increase enrollment and popularity in a school choice context and improve performance on accountability measures.

The dynamic nature of student discipline and discipline disparities
Sean Darling-Hammond et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 25 April 2023 


Researchers have long used end-of-year discipline rates to identify punitive schools, explore sources of inequitable treatment, and evaluate interventions designed to stem both discipline and racial disparities in discipline. Yet, this approach leaves us with a "static view" -- with no sense of how disciplinary responses fluctuate throughout the year. What if daily discipline rates, and daily discipline disparities, shift over the school year in ways that could inform when and where to intervene? This research takes a "dynamic view" of discipline. It leverages 4 years of atypically detailed data regarding the daily disciplinary experiences of 46,964 students from 61 middle schools in one of the nation’s largest school districts. Reviewing these data, we find that discipline rates are indeed dynamic. For all student groups, the daily discipline rate grows from the beginning of the school year to the weeks leading up to the Thanksgiving break, falls before major breaks, and grows following major breaks. During periods of escalation, the daily discipline rate for Black students grows significantly faster than the rate for White students -- widening racial disparities. Given this, districts hoping to stem discipline and disparities may benefit from timing interventions to precede these disciplinary spikes. In addition, early-year Black-White disparities can be used to identify the schools in which Black-White disparities are most likely to emerge by the end of the school year. Thus, the results reported here provide insights regarding not only when to intervene, but where to intervene to reduce discipline rates and disparities.

Estimating a Theoretically Consistent Human Capital Production Function With an Application to Head Start
Robert Kaestner & Luis Faundez
NBER Working Paper, April 2023 


This article describes a conceptual and empirical approach for estimating a human capital production function of child development that incorporates mother- or child-fixed effects. The use of mother- or child-fixed effects is common in this applied economics literature, but its application is often inconsistent with human capital theory. We outline the problem and demonstrate its empirical importance with an analysis of the effect of Head Start and preschool on child and adult outcomes. The empirical specification we develop has broad implications for a variety of applied microeconomic analyses beyond our specific application. Results of our analysis indicate that attending Head Start or preschool had no economically or statistically significant effect on child or adult outcomes.

School Disruptions Exacerbated Inequality in High School Completion
Ran Liu
Educational Researcher, forthcoming 


Using school-month-level learning mode data and high school completion rates across three school years from 429 Wisconsin public high schools, this study examines the impact of disruptions to in-person instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic on high school completion rates, with a focus on socioeconomic disparities. Findings reveal that a longer time in virtual or hybrid learning mode in 2020–21 decreases overall school completion rates and increases the within-school gap in completion rates between economically disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students. This study provides further evidence of the unequal impact of the pandemic and calls for initiatives to support disadvantaged students during school disruptions.

College quality as revealed by willingness-to-pay for college graduates
John Green, Peter Orazem & Nicole Swepston
Education Economics, forthcoming 


This study measures college quality by the amount by which the college adds to the salary of its students above what the median market value would be for the same majors and student quality. Commonly used national rankings of colleges such as U.S. News and World Report or Forbes are heavily biased by a college’s average salaries and the quality of the students it enrolls, and not by the actual value-added by the colleges. Once student quality and mix of majors are controlled, salary differences between elite and nonelite schools largely disappear.

The Value Gap: How Gender, Generation, Personality, and Politics Shape the Values of American University Students
Zachary Rausch, Glenn Geher & Clare Redden
Journal of Open Inquiry in the Behavioral Sciences, March 2023 


Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, in their book, The Coddling of the American Mind (2018), portrayed current undergraduate American college students (most of whom are in the generation Gen Z: 1995 - 2013) as valuing emotional well-being and the advancement of social justice goals above traditional academic values such as academic freedom and the pursuit of truth. We investigated whether this value discrepancy exists among 574 American university students by exploring the prioritization of five different academic values (academic freedom, advancing knowledge, academic rigor, social justice, and emotional well-being). We also explored how gender, generation, personality, major, and conservatism predict each academic value. Generational differences were present, with Gen Z students emphasizing emotional well-being and de-emphasising academic rigor. Males scored higher on measures of academic freedom and advancing knowledge, while lower on social justice and emotional well-being compared to females. Political conservatism was the strongest predictor for social justice scores, with increased liberal attitudes predicting higher scores on social justice. Emotional stability positively predicted advancing knowledge, while negatively predicting emotional well-being. Agreeableness positively predicted emotional well-being, while negatively predicting advancing knowledge. We ultimately argue that gender is a crucial, underestimated explanatory factor of the value orientations of American college students.

Where and with whom does a brief social-belonging intervention promote progress in college?
Gregory Walton et al.
Science, 5 May 2023, Pages 499-505 


A promising way to mitigate inequality is by addressing students’ worries about belonging. But where and with whom is this social-belonging intervention effective? Here we report a team-science randomized controlled experiment with 26,911 students at 22 diverse institutions. Results showed that the social-belonging intervention, administered online before college (in under 30 minutes), increased the rate at which students completed the first year as full-time students, especially among students in groups that had historically progressed at lower rates. The college context also mattered: The intervention was effective only when students’ groups were afforded opportunities to belong. This study develops methods for understanding how student identities and contexts interact with interventions. It also shows that a low-cost, scalable intervention generalizes its effects to 749 4-year institutions in the United States.

COVID on campus: An empirical analysis of COVID infection rates at U.S. colleges and universities
Lewis Davis, Stephen Schmidt & Sophia Zacher
Southern Economic Journal, April 2023, Pages 1034-1055 


We provide an empirical analysis of the determinants of cumulative COVID infection rates at 1069 U.S. colleges and universities during the 2020–21 academic year. We propose that financially constrained educational institutions faced a trade-off between the reduction of COVID infection risks and an institution's educational, social, reputational, and financial goals. We find that cumulative infection rates are higher at wealthier institutions, measured by higher endowments per student or higher tuition rates. Institutions with lower enrollment yields in admissions also have higher COVID infection rates, perhaps reflecting the greater influence of student preferences on decision making at these institutions. Economies of scale in COVID mitigation emerge gradually over the course of the year. Finally, COVID infection rates do not differ significantly for otherwise similar public and private institutions in states with Democratic governors, but they are significantly higher for public institutions in states with Republican governors.

Quantifying and explaining the decline in public schoolteacher retirement benefits
Nino Abashidze, Robert Clark & Lee Craig
Industrial Relations, forthcoming 


We estimate that, between 2000 and 2020, the average initial monthly retirement benefit for teachers retiring with 30 years of service has been reduced by 11.2%, though the decline in benefits varies substantially across the states (the median reduction in the initial benefit was 1.9%). We also find that plans covering only teachers, and plans in which teachers are not in Social Security, have made smaller reductions in the generosity of their pension benefits.

The Efficiency-Equity Trade-off in a Federal System: Local Financing of Schools and Student Achievement 
Carlos Lastra-Anadón & Paul Peterson
Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Spring 2023, Pages 174–200


Federalism theorists debate the desirability of funding local services from local revenues or inter-governmental grants. Tiebout expects efficiency gains from local funding, but Oates says it perpetuates inequalities. Research using data from national probability samples has yet to show whether efficiency-equity trade-offs are associated with funding sources. We describe the trade-off in education by estimating the effect of revenue share from local sources on math and reading achievement. Data come from national probability samples of student performances on tests administered between 1990 and 2017. Relationships are estimated with OLS descriptive models, event study models of school finance reforms, and geographic discontinuity models that exploit differences in state funding policies. For every ten-percentage point increase in local revenue share, mean achievement rises by 0.05 standard deviations (sd) and socio-economic achievement gaps widen by 0.03sd. Voice and exit channels moderate the size of the efficiency-equity trade-off. Implications for inter-governmental grant policy are discussed.

Friends don’t let friends drop out
John Krieg, Darius Martin & Adam Wright
Education Economics, forthcoming 


We combine administrative data from a regional public university with a novel revealed-preference indicator of student friendships to show that socially connected first-year university students are more likely to be retained into their second year. The impact of friends on retention is statistically and economically significant: each friend raises the probability of retention by about 0.6 percentage points, an effect size roughly equivalent to 66 SAT points. This effect occurs in the presence of a robust set of explanatory variables, including unique indicators of a student’s prior commitment to the university, and applies to wide variety of student subgroups.

What Did You Get? Peers, Information, and Student Exam Performance
Lauren Ratliff Santoro & Jonas Bunte
Research in Higher Education, May 2023, Pages 423–450 


When students are aware of the exam grades of their peers, does this information affect their subsequent exam performance? For example, knowing that my friend scored a higher grade on Exam 1 than myself might motivate me to improve my performance on Exam 2, or might frustrate me such that I stop trying to catch up. We analyze whether students’ performance is shaped by the grades of their classmates. To answer this question, we use survey-based data on students’ connections to other students with the grades that students obtained in a class. We find that a peer effect on grades does exist, where students who know that the grades of their friends were higher than their own on the first exam are motivated to improve their score on the following exam.


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