Schoolwide Free Meals and Student Discipline: Effects of the Community Eligibility Provision
Nora Gordon & Krista Ruffini
Education Finance and Policy, forthcoming
This paper examines whether schoolwide free meals affect disciplinary outcomes, focusing on the use of suspensions. Under the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), schools serving sufficiently high-poverty populations may enroll their entire student bodies in free lunch and breakfast programs, extending free meals to some students who would not qualify individually and potentially decreasing the stigma associated with school meals. We leverage the staggered rollout of CEP across states and school discipline measures for the near-universe of public schools to assess how disciplinary infractions change within a school as it becomes eligible for CEP. We conclude that schoolwide free meals reduced suspensions statistically significantly for white male elementary students by approximately 17 percent. Point estimates for other subgroups in elementary schools, and overall, are negative but smaller in magnitude; while treatment effects for black students are statistically insignificant, we also cannot rule out equal treatment effects between black and white students. We lack statistical power to rule large positive or negative effects for middle and high school students. The reductions among white students are somewhat larger in areas with high baseline poverty rates, consistent with universal meals programs serving an unmet need.
Delayed Benefits: Effects of California School District Bond Elections on Achievement by Socioeconomic Status
Sociology of Education, forthcoming
Contradictory evidence of the relationship between education funding and student achievement could reflect heterogeneous effects by revenue source or student characteristics. This study examines potential heterogeneous effects of a particular type of local revenue - bond funds for capital investments - on achievement by socioeconomic status. Comparing California school districts within a narrow window on either side of the cutoff of voter support required to pass a general obligation bond measure, I use dynamic regression discontinuity models to estimate effects of passing a bond on academic achievement among low- and high-socioeconomic-status (SES) students. Results consistently suggest that passing a bond increases achievement among low- but not high-SES students. However, these benefits for low-SES students are delayed and emerge six years after an election. Effects are larger in low-income districts and in small districts, where benefits of capital investments are experienced by a larger proportion of students.
The decreased popularity of the teaching sector in the 1970s
Economics of Education Review, forthcoming
In the 1970s, the proportion of male college freshmen who planned to become teachers dropped from 15% to 3%, and that of female freshman from 45% to 12%. In this paper, I use nationally representative survey data on the career plans of college freshmen to look at the roles played by increased access to fertility controls and the unionization of the teaching sector, in the decline in the popularity of the teaching sector during this period. I find that the overall impact of these factors on men was small and insignificant, whereas early legal access to contraceptives increased women's likelihood of planning to become teachers. Looking at the actual career outcomes of the same cohorts in the census data, I find that access to the pill had a negative impact on the share of men in teaching and positive impact on the share of women. I use information on high school grades and college selectivity in the freshmen surveys to separate students by academic ability in the analysis. I find that unionization had a negative impact on plans to become teachers among high-ability men and low-ability women. Increased access to the pill had a negative impact on the share of low-ability men who planned to teach and a positive impact on the share among low- and medium-ability women.
Athletics and Admissions: The Impact of the Penn State Football Scandal on Student Quality
Candon Johnson & Bryan McCannon
West Virginia University Working Paper, December 2019
We ask whether a scandal in a university's athletics department affects the quality of the incoming, first-year student body. To do so, we evaluate the child sex abuse scandal at Penn State University in 2011. The violations involved a former employee with the crimes occurring a decade prior. Thus, the plausibly-exogenous shock allows us to make a causal identification of the scandal's effect on the university. We use synthetic control methods establishing economically meaningful impacts. We find that the average high school GPA is 0.12 points less and the proportion of students with high SAT Math scores is down 4.8 percentage points.
Pledging to Do "Good": An Early Commitment Pledge Program, College Scholarships, and High School Outcomes in Washington State
Dan Goldhaber et al.
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, forthcoming
Indiana, Oklahoma, and Washington each have programs designed to address college enrollment gaps by offering a promise of state-based college financial aid to low-income middle school students in exchange for making a pledge to do well in high school, be a good citizen, not be convicted of a felony, and apply for financial aid to college. Using a triple-difference specification, we estimate the effects of Washington's College Bound Scholarship program on students' high school grades, high school graduation, juvenile detention and rehabilitation, and incarceration in state prison during high school or early adulthood. We find insignificant and substantively small or negative effects on these outcomes. These results call into question the rationale for such early commitment programs.
"My Voice Matters": High School Debaters' Acquisition of Dominant and Adaptive Cultural Capital
American Journal of Education, February 2020, Pages 293-321
Low-income, racial/ethnic minority youth in under-resourced schools have certain opportunities to acquire cultural capital that is valued in dominant institutional contexts. I use observational data from 6 months of debate practices and competitions with two teams in the Chicago Debate League, as well as interviews with 12 debaters and 2 coaches, to show that debate participation can contribute to participants' acquisition of two forms of cultural capital. I argue that debaters demonstrate dominant cultural capital through demanding critical feedback and analyzing complex ideas. I further document how debaters develop "adaptive cultural capital," or cultural capital that dominant institutions demand of them but that is not required of members of dominant social groups. Here, adaptive cultural capital is illustrated through debaters' ability to face failure with resilience. These findings contribute to sociological understandings of how schools influence students' acquisition of diverse forms of cultural capital.
Effects of a universal classroom management teacher training program on elementary children with aggressive behaviors
Chi-ching Chuang, Wendy Reinke & Keith Herman
School Psychology, forthcoming
The purpose of this study was to examine the treatment effects of the Incredible Years Teacher Classroom Management (IY TCM), a universal classroom management intervention, on the outcomes of children with aggressive behavior in elementary school. Classroom management has been demonstrated as a factor in either escalating children's aggressive behavior or decreasing those problematic behaviors. Participants included 1,817 students (Grade K to 3) and 105 teachers from nine elementary schools in a large urban Midwestern school district. Teachers were randomly assigned to receive IY TCM or to a wait-list comparison group. The hypotheses were that baseline levels of aggression would moderate the relationship between intervention status and outcomes. Findings indicated the hypothesized moderation effect on several outcome variables; specifically, children with baseline aggression problems who were in IY TCM classrooms had significantly improved math achievement, emotional regulation, prosocial behaviors, and observed aggression in comparison to similar peers in the control classrooms. Implications for practice and future research based on the findings are discussed.
Is Scholarly Refereeing Productive (at the Margin)?
Aboozar Hadavand, Daniel Hamermesh & Wesley Wilson
NBER Working Paper, January 2020
In economics many articles are subjected to multiple rounds of refereeing at the same journal, which generates time costs of referees alone of at least $50 million. This process leads to remarkably longer publication lags than in other social sciences. We examine whether repeated refereeing produces any benefits, using an experiment at one journal that allows authors to submit under an accept/reject (fast-track or not) or the usual regime. We evaluate the scholarly impacts of articles by their subsequent citation histories, holding constant their sub-fields, authors' demographics and prior citations, and other characteristics. There is no payoff to refereeing beyond the first round and no difference between accept/reject articles and others. This result holds accounting for authors' selectivity into the two regimes, which we model formally to generate an empirical selection equation. This latter is used to provide instrumental estimates of the effect of each regime on scholarly impact.
Directed abstraction during initial skill learning promotes performance and lasting self-concept change
Peter Zunick & Russell Fazio
Self and Identity, forthcoming
Learning a new skill is often characterized by discouraging setbacks. We administered a directed abstraction writing exercise to encourage participants struggling to learn a programming language (over three weekly sessions) to generalize broadly from their successes. This intervention produced benefits for certain subsets of participants, including those who initially struggled to learn, believed their abilities were changeable, and had negative initial self-concepts regarding computers and programming. The benefits of directed abstraction included more positive self-concepts, motivation, and even performance one month following the final learning session. These results expand on past findings, showing benefits of directed abstraction over time and in a realistic learning setting, while further exploring for whom directed abstraction has the greatest benefits.
A tier 1 intervention to increase ninth grade engagement and success: Results from a randomized controlled trial
Brigid Flannery et al.
School Psychology, January 2020, Pages 88-98
Although high school graduation rates are improving, many students are still not successful. Research has documented that 9th grade is a pivotal year in determining whether a student will graduate or drop out. The purpose of this randomized controlled trial was to assess the effects of a Tier 1 intervention model (freshmen success) for 9th grade students to increase school engagement, attendance, credits earned, and grade point average (GPA). This study included 1,588 students in ninth grade across 4 comprehensive high schools. Treatment schools implemented the freshmen success components: a 9th grade leadership team, a curriculum, and support from peer navigators. Control schools continued business as usual. Results showed statistically significant and educationally meaningful effects on student motivation, engagement and attendance, and a moderate-to-large effect for credits earned. However, there was no significant effect found for GPA.