Valuing School

Kevin Lewis

July 08, 2024

A Rising Tide That Lifts All Boats? Effects of Competition on Child Care Quality and Medium-Term Student Outcomes
Qing Zhang & Jade Marcus Jenkins
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, forthcoming

Using administrative data of center-based child care providers in North Carolina from 2005 to 2018, we provide the first direct evidence on the effects of competition on provider quality and student outcomes in the context of early care and education, taking advantage of quality measures from the state's Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). We found that competition was associated with higher quality ratings and a higher probability to achieve a five-star rating -- the highest tier in the QRIS. More competition increased providers' probability to improve their rating and reduced the time to improve. Compared to public schools, private providers were responsive to competition. However, we did not find any effects of competition on district-level student third-grade academic performance.

Pink Slips (for Some): Campus Employment, Social Class, and COVID-19
Anthony Abraham Jack & Becca Spindel Bassett
Sociology of Education, forthcoming

Although undergraduates from all class backgrounds work while attending college, little is known about how students approach finding work and the benefits they reap from different on-campus roles. Drawing on interviews with 110 undergraduates at Harvard University, we show that in the absence of clear institutional expectations surrounding on-campus work opportunities, students draw on class-based strategies to determine which jobs are "right for them." Upper-income students pursued "life of the mind" jobs that permitted them access to institutional resources and networks. Alternatively, lower-income students pursued more transactional "work for pay" positions that yielded fewer institutional benefits and connections. The consequences of these differential strategies were amplified during COVID-19 campus closures as work-for-pay positions were eliminated while life of the mind continued remotely. Through documenting heterogeneity in work experiences, we reveal a class-segregated labor market on campus and extend previous analyses of how university practices exacerbate class differences and reproduce inequality.

Aggregate and Intergenerational Implications of School Closures: A Quantitative Assessment
Youngsoo Jang & Minchul Yum
American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, July 2024, Pages 90-130

This paper quantitatively investigates the medium- and long-term macroeconomic and distributional consequences of school closures through intergenerational channels. The model economy is a dynastic overlapping-generations general equilibrium model in which schools, in the form of public education investments, complement parental investments in producing children's human capital. We find that unexpected school closure shocks have long-lasting adverse effects on macroeconomic aggregates and reduce intergenerational mobility, especially among older children. Higher substitutability between public and private investments induces smaller damages in the aggregate economy and the affected children's lifetime income while exacerbating negative impacts on intergenerational mobility and inequality.

Preschool Lottery Admissions and Its Effects on Long-Run Earnings and Outcomes
Randall Akee & Leah Clark
NBER Working Paper, June 2024

We use an admissions lottery to estimate the effect of a non-means tested preschool program on students' long-run earnings, employment, family income, household formation, and geographic mobility. We observe long-run outcomes by linking both admitted and non-admitted individuals to confidential administrative data including tax records. Funding for this preschool program comes from an Indigenous organization, which grants Indigenous students admissions preference and free tuition. We find treated children have between 5 to 6 percent higher earnings as young adults. The results are quite large for young women, especially those from the lower half of the initial parental household income distribution. There is also some evidence that children, regardless of gender, from households with below median parental incomes realize the largest average increases in earnings in adulthood. Finally, we find that increased earnings start at ages 21 and older for the treated students. Likely mechanisms include high-quality teachers and curriculum.

From high school to higher education: Is recreational marijuana a consumption amenity for US college students?
Ahmed El Fatmaoui
Economic Inquiry, July 2024, Pages 1024-1045

This paper examines how recreational marijuana legalization (RML) affects first-time college enrollment in the US using a unique college-level dataset and various estimation methods such as difference-in-differences and event study. I find that RML increases enrollments by approximately up to 9%, without compromising degree completion or graduation rate, and it boosts college competitiveness by offering a positive amenity, as evidenced by the rise in out-of-state enrollments relative to neighboring states. In addition, I find no evidence that RML affects college prices, quality, or in-state enrollment. This effect is stronger for non-selective public colleges in early-adopting RML states.

The Effects of Housing Price Declines on Children's Educational Outcomes
Vicki Been et al.
Education Finance and Policy, forthcoming

We examine the effects that household exposure to housing price declines, captured by measures of negative equity, have on children's academic performance, using data on public school students and housing transactions from the State of Florida. Our empirical strategy exploits variation over time in the timing of family moves to account for household sorting into neighborhoods and schools and selection into initial mortgage terms. In contrast to the existing literature on the effects of foreclosure, we find that students with the highest risk of negative equity exhibit significantly higher test score growth, with the largest effects among Black students and students qualifying for free or reduced-priced lunch. We find evidence supporting two underlying mechanisms: (1) families in negative equity may reduce the impact of income losses on consumption by forgoing mortgage payments, and (2) families exposed to high levels of negative equity may move to schools that received higher average school report card grades. While negative equity and foreclosure are undesirable, negative equity may have encouraged homeowners to forgo mortgage payments to mitigate the impact of the Great Recession, and temporarily reduced the housing market barriers low-income households faced in accessing educational opportunities.

Education, crowding-out, and Black-White employment in youth labor markets: Evidence from No Pass, No Drive policies
Kendall Kennedy & Danqing Shen
Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

We study how education affects Black and White youth employment in the context of No Pass, No Drive (NPND) policies, which require that teens attend school to hold drivers' licenses. Using difference-in-differences estimation, we find that NPND policies increase Black teen employment by 6.7 p.p. without affecting labor force participation (LFP), while reducing White teen employment and LFP by 8.3 p.p. and 5.9 p.p., respectively. We find similar, but smaller effects for Black and White adults ages 18-25. By increasing school enrollment, NPND policies cause White youths to exit the labor force, increasing labor market tightness and improving job finding for Black youths.

Does Universal SEL Promote Academic Success? Examining Learner Outcomes Under Routine Conditions in First-Grade Classrooms
Susan Crandall Hart et al.
AERA Open, June 2024

Although proponents suggest that universal social-emotional learning (SEL) programs promote academic achievement, few studies have directly tested these outcomes under routine conditions in schools. Forty first-grade classrooms participated in an effectiveness trial in which schools (N = 13) were randomly assigned to implementation of a universal SEL program (SSIS SEL CIP) or control (business-as-usual practices) conditions within sites/regions. Teachers in the treatment condition prepared for and implemented the program in accordance with their typical local practices. There were no statistically significant main effects on teacher-rated student engagement, motivation, and academic skills. Effect sizes, however, were medium to large and positive for academic engaged time and math achievement. Students with lower teacher-rated academic motivation at pretest also were more likely to improve after program exposure. These findings help identify considerations for further studying the potential academic outcomes resulting from implementing universal SEL under typical conditions.


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