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Instructional time is a fundamental educational input, yet we have little causal evidence about the effect of longer school days on student achievement. This paper uses a sharp regression discontinuity design to estimate the effects of lengthening the school day for low-performing schools in Florida by exploiting an administrative cutoff for eligibility. Our results indicate significant positive effects of additional literacy instruction on student reading achievement. In particular, we find effects of 0.05 standard deviations of improvement in reading test scores for program assignment in the first year, though long-run effects are difficult to assess.
Citation: David Figlio, Kristian Holden, Umut Ozek (2018). Do Students Benefit from Longer School Days? Regression Discontinuity Evidence from Florida's Additional Hour of Literacy Instruction. CALDER Working Paper No. Working Paper 110 818.
As states attempt to staff public school classrooms with qualified teachers, primary attention has focused on educator preparation and early career retention. Far less research has examined the staffing consequences of turnover induced by teacher pension plans. This paper makes use of a unique longitudinal data file with performance measures for all public school teachers in Tennessee. Descriptive analysis finds that higher quality teachers are less likely to retire for a given age and experience. To better understand the effects of pension plan incentives on workforce quality, we estimate a structural retirement model that explicitly allows for different work-retirement preferences for high and low quality teachers. We find that high quality teachers have a lower disutility for teaching as compared to retirement. Given that it costs less to keep high as compared to low quality teachers on the job, we use the structural estimates to simulate the effect of retention bonuses targeted to the former. One year retention bonuses produce an additional year of high quality teaching at a cost of roughly $40,000.
Citation: Shawn Ni, Michael Podgursky, Xiqian Wang (2018). Teacher Pension Plan Incentives, Retirement Decisions, and Workforce Quality. CALDER Working Paper No. Working Paper 120 718.
We use longitudinal data on high school students in Washington State to assess the relationships between English Language Arts (ELA) teacher value added and other qualifications and the high school and postsecondary outcomes of their students. We also investigate whether these relationships differ for students with and without disabilities. We find that students assigned to 10th grade ELA teachers with higher value added have better test scores, are more likely to graduate on-time, and are more likely to attend and graduate from a four-year college than observably similar students assigned to 10th grade ELA teachers with lower value added. We also find that many of these relationships vary for students with and without disabilities, as 10th grade ELA teacher value added is more positively predictive of on-time graduation and four-year college attendance for students without disabilities, but more positively predictive of two-year college attendance and employment within two years of graduation for students with disabilities. In contrast to value added, other teacher characteristics like experience, degree level, endorsement area, and licensure test scores do not consistently predict better outcomes for students with or without disabilities.
Citation: Roddy Theobald, Dan Goldhaber, Trevor Gratz, Kristian Holden (2018). High School English Language Arts Teachers and Postsecondary Outcomes for Students With and Without Disabilities. CALDER Working Paper No. Working Paper 110 718.
We document patterns and trends in school segregation in North Carolina between 1998 and 2016, a period of rapid immigration in this racially diverse state. As in other states of the South, the period of court orders enforcing racial balance has given way not only to tacit acceptance of residentially based school segregation but also to policies that offer parents alternatives to traditional public schools. Most prominent among these alternatives in North Carolina are charter schools, which have expanded rapidly with the state’s blessing. Following the prevailing practice of social scientists, we measure segregation by the degree of imbalance across schools, using counties and metropolitan areas as basic geographical units. We differentiate students according to their racial/ethnic group and also to their family income. We take into account all students including those in private schools, charter schools and traditional public schools.
For the state as a whole, we find that white/nonwhite segregation increased over the period. Most of the increase was in urban areas. We also find that low-income students became more segregated from other students. Segregation measured either way increased sharply in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, which significantly changed its student assignment policy following a federal court order. Compared to metropolitan areas in other parts of the U.S., urban areas in the state have modest levels of segregation, because most districts are county-wide and thus large and diverse. We decompose metropolitan segregation, separating the portions due to private schools, charter schools, racial disparities between school districts, and racial disparities within districts. Charter schools and within-district disparities accounted for the increase in average segregation in metropolitan areas over the period. More generally, areas where school segregation increased the most tend to be large, growing, and marked by big increases in the share of students who are Hispanic.
Citation: Charles Clotfelter, Steven Hemelt, Helen Ladd, Mavzuna Turaeva (2018). School Segregation in The Era of Immigration and School Choice: North Carolina, 1998-2016. CALDER Working Paper No. Working Paper 150 618.
We investigate sources of variation in teacher evaluation ratings across classrooms, schools, and districts. We show that assignment to high achieving classrooms increases teacher evaluation ratings. We also document significant variation in the sensitivity of performance ratings to value-added measures of teacher effectiveness across districts. Consequently, the probability that high or low performing teachers, as measured by value added, receive the highest or lowest evaluation ratings differs considerably across school districts. Our findings suggest that statewide policies that attach high stakes to performance evaluations are likely to have different consequences across schools and districts.
Citation: James Cowan , Dan Goldhaber, Roddy Theobald (2018). An Exploration of Sources of Variation in Teacher Evaluation Ratings across Classrooms, Schools, and Districts. CALDER Working Paper No. Working Paper 140 618.
This paper examines what parents value as they make choices among available charter schools, with primary attention to the racial mix of a school’s students. We estimate conditional logit models of the charter school choices made by all parents in North Carolina who switched their child from a traditional public school to a charter school in 2014/15. Our findings that parents care about the school’s racial mix of students and that such preferences differ by the race and income of the choosers highlight the pressures that lead charter schools to be racially imbalanced. Our models also include other factors that parents may value such as the distance to the charter, the school’s academic performance, the services provided by the charter, such as subsidized lunch and transportation, and the school’s mission and approach.
Citation: Helen Ladd, Charles Clotfelter, Mavzuna Turaeva (2018). Choosing Charter Schools in North Carolina: What Do Parents Value?. CALDER Working Paper No. Working Paper 130 618.
We study a teacher incentive policy in Washington State that awards a financial bonus to National Board certified teachers in high poverty schools. Using a regression discontinuity design, we find that the bonus policy increased the proportion of certified teachers in bonus-eligible schools by improving hiring, increasing certification rates of incumbent teachers, and reducing turnover. Depending on the method, we estimate that the proportion of NBCTs in treated schools increased by about four to eight percentage points over the first five years of eligibility. However, the improvement in certification rates corresponds to a change of about 0.2 to 0.3 percent of a standard deviation in teacher quality per year and we do not find evidence that the bonus resulted in detectible effects on student test achievement.
Citation: James Cowan, Dan Goldhaber (2018). Do Bonuses Affect Teacher Staffing and Student Achievement in High Poverty Schools? Evidence from an Incentive for National Board Certified Teachers in Washington State. CALDER Working Paper No. Working Paper 110 618.
Few studies examine employee responses to layoff-induced unemployment risk; none that we know of quantify the impact of job insecurity on individual employee productivity. Using data from the Los Angeles Unified School District and Washington State during the Great Recession, we provide the first evidence about the impact of the layoff process on teacher productivity. In both sites we find that teachers impacted by the layoff process are less productive than those who do not face layoff-induced job threat. LAUSD teachers who are laid off and then rehired to return to the district are less productive in the two years following the layoff. Washington teachers who are given a reduction-in-force (RIF) notice and are then not laid off have reduced effectiveness in the year of the RIF. We argue that these results are likely driven by impacts of the layoff process on teachers’ job commitment and present evidence to rule out alternate explanations.
WP 140 was revised in March 2018. It was originally released in November 2015.
Citation: Katharine O. Strunk, Dan Goldhaber, David S. Knight, Nate Brown (2018). Are There Hidden Costs Associated With Conducting Layoffs? The Impact of RIFs and Layoffs on Teacher Effectiveness. CALDER Working Paper No. Working Paper 140.
UTeach is a well-known, university-based program designed to increase the number of high-quality STEM teachers in the workforce. Despite substantial investment and rapid program diffusion, there is little evidence about the effectiveness of UTeach graduates. Using administrative data from the state of Texas, we measure the impact of having a UTeach teacher on student test scores in math and science in middle schools and high schools. We find that students taught by UTeach teachers perform significantly better on end-of-grade tests in math and end-of-course tests in math and science by 8% to 14% of a standard deviation on the test, depending on grade and subject.
WP 173 was revised in February 2018. It was originally released in December 2016.
Citation: Benjamin Backes, Dan Goldhaber, Whitney Cade, Kate Sullivan , Melissa Dodson (2018). Can UTeach? Assessing the Relative Effectiveness of STEM Teachers. CALDER Working Paper No. Working Paper 173.
This paper examines the influence of teacher assistants and other personnel on student outcomes in elementary schools during a period of recession-induced cutbacks in teachers and teacher assistants. Using panel data from North Carolina, we exploit the state’s unique system of financing its local public schools to identify the causal effects of teacher assistants and other staff on student test scores in math and reading and other outcomes. We find strong and consistent evidence of positive contributions of teacher assistants, an understudied staffing category, with larger effects on outcomes for minority students than for white students.
Citation: Steven Hemelt, Helen Ladd (2017). Teaching Assistants and Nonteaching Staff: Do They Improve Student Outcomes? (Update). CALDER Working Paper No. Working Paper 169.
The world is experiencing the second largest refugee crisis in a century, and one of the major points of contention involves the possible adverse effects of incoming refugees on host communities. We examine the effects of a large refugee influx into Florida public schools following the Haitian earthquake of 2010 using unique matched birth and schooling records. We find precise zero estimated effects of refugees on the educational outcomes of incumbent students in the year of the earthquake or in the two years that follow, regardless of the socioeconomic status, grade level, ethnicity, or birthplace of incumbent students.
Citation: David Figlio, Umut Özek (2017). Unwelcome Guests? The Effects of Refugees on the Educational Outcomes of Incumbent Students. CALDER Working Paper No. Working Paper 180.
State-specific licensing policies and pension plans create mobility costs for educators who cross state lines. We empirically test whether these costs affect production in schools – a hypothesis that follows directly from economic theory on labor frictions – using geocoded data on school locations and state boundaries. We find that achievement is lower in mathematics, and to a lesser extent in reading, at schools that are more exposed to state boundaries. A detailed investigation of the selection of schools into boundary regions yields no indication of systematic differences between boundary and non-boundary schools along other measured dimensions. Moreover, we show that cross-district labor frictions do not explain state boundary effects. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that mobility frictions in educator labor markets near state boundaries lower student achievement.
Citation: Dongwoo Kim, Cory Koedel, Shawn Ni, Michael Podgursky (2017). Labor Market Frictions and Production Efficiency in Public Schools. CALDER Working Paper No. Working Paper 166.
Improving public sector workforce quality is challenging in sectors such as education where worker productivity is difficult to assess and manager incentives are muted by political and bureaucratic constraints. In this paper, we study how providing improved information to principals about teacher effectiveness and encouraging them to use the information in personnel decisions affects the composition of teacher turnovers. Our setting is the Houston Independent School District, which recently implemented a rigorous teacher evaluation system. Prior to the new system, teacher effectiveness was negatively correlated with district exit and we show that the policy significantly strengthened this relationship, primarily by increasing the relative likelihood of exit for teachers in the bottom quintile of the quality distribution. Low-performing teachers working in low-achieving schools were especially likely to leave. However, despite the success, the implied change to the quality of the workforce overall is too small to have a detectable impact on student achievement.
Citation: Julie Berry Cullen, Cory Koedel, Eric Parsons (2017). The Compositional Effect of Rigorous Teacher Evaluation on Workforce Quality. CALDER Working Paper No. Working Paper 168.
Public school teachers retire much earlier than comparable professionals. Pension rule changes affecting new teachers can be used to close this gap in the long run, but any effects will not be observed for decades and the implications for workforce quality are unclear. This paper considers targeted incentive policies designed to retain experienced high-need teachers, of retirement age, as instruments to extend current teachers’ careers. We use structural estimates from a dynamic retirement model to simulate the workforce effects of targeted late-career salary bonuses and deferred retirement (DROP) plans using administrative data from Missouri. The simulations suggest that such programs can be cost-effective, partly because long-term pension savings offset a portion of upfront program costs. More generally, we demonstrate the utility of using structural retirement models to analyze fiscal and workforce effects of changes to public sector pension plans, since the effects of pension reforms cumulate over many years.
Citation: Dongwoo Kim, Cory Koedel, Shawn Ni, Michael Podgursky, Weiwei Wu (2017). Pensions and Late Career Teacher Retention (Update). CALDER Working Paper No. Working Paper 164.
We study the relative performance of two policy relevant value-added models – a one-step fixed effect model and a two-step aggregated residuals model – using a simulated dataset well grounded in the value-added literature. A key feature of our data generating process is that student achievement depends on a continuous measure of economic disadvantage. This is a realistic condition that has implications for model performance because researchers typically have access to only a noisy, binary measure of disadvantage. We find that one- and two-step value-added models perform similarly across a wide range of student and teacher sorting conditions, with the two-step model modestly outperforming the one-step model in all but the most extreme cases of sorting. The reason for the generally superior performance of the two-step model is that it better handles the use of an error-prone, dichotomous proxy for student disadvantage.
Citation: Eric Parsons, Cory Koedel, Li Tan (2017). Accounting for Student Disadvantage in Value-Added Models. CALDER Working Paper No. Working Paper 179.
An increasingly prevalent type of program designed to address college attainment gaps are state-based financial aid programs that offer low-income middle school students a promise of funding for college in exchange for making a pledge to do well in high school, be a good citizen and not be convicted of a felony, and apply for financial aid to college. Using a difference-in-differences specification, we estimate the effects of Washington State’s College Bound Scholarship Program on high school grades, whether students graduate from high school, and incarceration in state prison during high school or during early adulthood. We find evidence that eligible students’ high school grade point averages fell by 0.01 (from a pre-policy base of 2.38) and that the likelihood of being incarcerated fell by 0.1 percentage points (from a pre-policy base of 0.3 percentage points). These findings are robust to falsification exercises. Eligible students also experienced an increase in their rate of on-time high school graduation, but falsification tests show that this result is not due to the program, but rather due to broader secular improvement in graduation rates for disadvantaged youth.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Mark C. Long, Trevor Gratz, Jordan Rooklyn (2017). The Effects of Washington’s College Bound Scholarship Program on High School Grades, High School Completion, and Incarceration. CALDER Working Paper No. Working Paper 178.
We investigate factors influencing student sign-ups for Washington State’s College Bound Scholarship (CBS) program. We find a substantial share of eligible middle school students fail to sign the CBS, forgoing college financial aid. Student characteristics associated with signing the scholarship parallel characteristics of low-income students who attend 4-year colleges. Simulations suggest the program may address college enrollment gaps, increasing college-going by some disadvantaged groups, it also would reinforce inequalities in college-going that exist between sub-groups of low-income students. Finally, student sign-up rates are lower than has been previously reported. Importantly, we find a perception among program administrators that nearly all eligible students sign up, which shifts attention away from sign-ups to encouraging pledgees to follow through with program requirements.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Mark C. Long, Ann E. Person, Jordan Rooklyn (2017). What Factors Predict Middle School Students Sign Up for Washington's College Bound Scholarship Program? A Mixed Methods Evaluation . CALDER Working Paper No. Working Paper 175.
We use remarkable population-level administrative education and birth records from Florida to study the role of Long-Term Orientation on the educational attainment of immigrant students living in the US. Controlling for the quality of schools and individual characteristics, students from countries with long term oriented attitudes perform better than students from cultures that do not emphasize the importance of delayed gratification. These students perform better in third grade reading and math tests, have larger test score gains over time, have fewer absences and disciplinary incidents, are less likely to repeat grades, and are more likely to graduate from high school in four years. Also, they are more likely to enroll in advanced high school courses, especially in scientific subjects. Parents from long term oriented cultures are more likely to secure better educational opportunities for their children. A larger fraction of immigrants speaking the same language in the school amplifies the effect of Long-Term Orientation on educational performance. We validate these results using a sample of immigrant students living in 37 different countries.
We investigate the relationship between teacher licensure test scores and student test achievement and high school course-taking. We focus on three subject/grade combinations—middle school math, ninth-grade algebra and geometry, and ninth-grade biology—and find evidence that a teacher’s basic skills test scores are modestly predictive of student achievement in middle and high school math and highly predictive of student achievement in high school biology. A teacher’s subject-specific licensure test scores are a consistent and statistically significant predictor of student achievement only in high school biology. Finally, we find little evidence that students assigned to middle school teachers with higher basic-skills test scores are more likely to take advanced math and science courses in high school.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Trevor Gratz, Roddy Theobald (2016). What’s in a Teacher Test? Assessing the Relationship between Teacher Licensure Test Scores and Student Secondary STEM Achievement. CALDER Working Paper No. Working Paper 158.
We rely on natural experiments in North Carolina and Washington State, which previously extended time to tenure by one year, to estimate models that assess the relationship between the extended probationary period and absence and attrition outcomes for teachers affected by the new tenure laws. Across both states we find evidence of decreases in teacher absences for probationary teachers who are subject to the new extended tenure laws, and in Washington, we find a significant reduction in absences in the specific year in which tenure was extended. We find mixed evidence for teacher attrition and mobility.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Michael Hansen, Joe Walch (2016). Time to Tenure: Does Tenure Reform Affect Teacher Absence Behavior and Mobility? . CALDER Working Paper No. Working Paper 172.