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In this paper we estimate the impacts of the “pathways” chosen by community college students—in terms of desired credentials and fields of study, as well as other choices and outcomes along the paths—on the attainment of credentials with labor market value. We focus on the extent to which there are recorded changes in students’ choices over time, whether students make choices informed by their chances of success and by labor market value of credentials, and the impacts of choices on outcomes. We find that several characteristics of chosen pathways, such as field of study and desired credential as well as early “momentum,” affect outcomes. Student choices of pathways are not always driven by information about later chances of success, in terms of probabilities of completing programs and attaining strong earnings. Students also change pathways quite frequently, making it harder to accumulate the credits needed in their fields. Attainment of credentials with greater market value could thus likely be improved by appropriate guidance and supports for students along the way, and perhaps by broader institutional changes as well.
Citation: Harry Holzer, Zeyu Xu (2019). Community College Pathways for Disadvantaged Students . CALDER Working Paper No. 218-0519
An increasing emphasis on principals as key to school improvement has contributed to efforts to elevate principal effectiveness that have taken various forms across the US. The primacy of the state as the focal point of educational reform elevates the value of understanding commonalities and differences among states in characteristics of principals, the distribution of principals among schools and ultimately the policies associated with more effective school leadership, particularly for disadvantaged children. This paper describes major state policies, the distribution of elementary school principals among schools along a several dimensions, and pathways to the principalship to illustrate similarities and differences among six states in the tenure and experience distributions and how these vary by student demographic characteristics and district size. Measurement of principal effectiveness and its relationship with principal characteristics and state policies would be ideal, but complications introduced by the dynamics of principal influences and confounding effects of other factors inhibit this effort. Nonetheless, school value added to achievement provides information on differences in principal effectiveness, and we report within-school variation value added across principal regimes and the associations between value added and principal characteristics. The analysis reveals many similarities and some differences among the states, some of which are related to differences in governance structures. Perhaps the most striking differences relate to the pathways to the principalship including the fraction of principals with experiences as assistant principals and teachers.
Citation: Wes Austin, Bingjie Chen, Dan Goldhaber , Eric Hanushek, Kristian Holden, Cory Koedel, Helen Ladd, Jin Luo, Eric Parsons, Gregory Phelan, Steven Rivkin, Tim Sass, Mavzuna Turaeva (2019). Path to the Principalship and Value Added: A Cross-state Comparison of Elementary and Middle School Principals. CALDER Working Paper No. 213-0119-1
In many school districts the policies that regulate personnel are governed by collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) negotiated between teachers’ unions and school boards. While there is significant policy attention and, in some cases, legislative action that has affected the scope of these agreements, there is relatively little research that assesses how CBAs vary over time, or whether they change in response to states’ legislative reforms. In this paper we compare CBAs in three states at two points in time: before and after substantial reforms in Michigan and Washington impacting collective bargaining and in California where there were no major statutory changes affecting CBAs. We find that few district characteristics predict changes in CBA restrictiveness over time, other than institutional spillovers from local bargaining structures. However, we observe that reforms to the scope of bargaining in Michigan and Washington drastically reduced the restrictiveness of Michigan and Washington CBAs relative to California.
Citation: Katharine Strunk , Joshua Cowen, Dan Goldhaber , Bradley D. Marianno, Tara Kilbride, Roddy Theobald (2018). Collective Bargaining and State-Level Reforms: Assessing Changes to the Restrictiveness of Collective Bargaining Agreements across Three States. CALDER Working Paper No. 210-1218-1
We use a novel database of the preservice apprenticeships (“student teaching placements”) of teachers in Washington State to investigate the relationship between mentor effectiveness (as measured by value added) and the future effectiveness of their mentees. We find a strong, positive relationship between the effectiveness of a teacher’s mentor and their own effectiveness in math and a more modest relationship in English Language Arts. The relationship in math is strongest early in a teacher’s career, decays significantly over time, and would be positive and statistically significant even in the presence of nonrandom sorting on unobservables of the same magnitude as the sorting on observables. Put together, this suggests that at least some of this relationship reflects a causal relationship between mentor effectiveness and the future effectiveness of their mentees in math.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, John Krieg, Roddy Theobald (2018). Effective Like Me? Does Having a More Productive Mentor Improve the Productivity of Mentees? . CALDER Working Paper No. 208-1118-1
We exploit within-teacher variation in the years that teachers host an apprentice (“student teacher”) in Washington State to estimate the causal effect of these apprenticeships on student achievement, both during the apprenticeship and afterwards. The average causal effect of hosting a student teacher on student performance in the year of the apprenticeship is precisely estimated and indistinguishable from zero in both math and reading, though effects are large and negative in math when ineffective teachers host an apprentice. Hosting a student teacher is also found to have modest positive impacts on student math and reading achievement in a teacher’s classroom in following years.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, John Krieg, Roddy Theobald (2018). Exploring the Impact of Student Teaching Apprenticeships on Student Achievement and Mentor Teachers . CALDER Working Paper No. 207-1118-1
We use comprehensive data on student teaching placements from 14 teacher education programs (TEPs) in Washington State to explore the sorting of teacher candidates to the teachers who supervise their student teaching (“cooperating teachers”) and the schools in which student teaching occurs. We find that, all else equal, teachers with more experience, higher degree levels, and higher value added in math are more likely to serve as cooperating teachers, as are schools with lower levels of historical teacher turnover but with more open positions the following year. We also find that teacher candidates are more likely to be placed with cooperating teachers of the same gender and race/ethnicity, and are more likely to work with cooperating teachers and in schools with administrators who graduated from the candidate’s TEP.
Citation: John Krieg , Dan Goldhaber, Roddy Theobald (2018). Teacher Candidate Apprenticeships: Assessing the Who and Where of Student Teaching. CALDER Working Paper No. 206-1118-1
A burgeoning literature investigates the importance of student teaching placements for teacher candidate development, but an important perspective that is largely missing from the existing literature is that of the school districts that host student teachers. In this paper, we describe the student teaching process from the perspective of Spokane Public Schools (SPS), highlighting the challenges associated with the student teacher placement process and several initiatives SPS has undertaken to improve student teaching experiences for teacher candidates. To our knowledge, this is the first systematic effort by a school district to improve the student teaching process and study the effects on teacher candidate outcomes. The initiatives undertaken by SPS illustrate the potential for districts to take a leadership role in defining the student teaching process and highlight some of the challenges inherent in hosting student teachers.
Citation: Dan Goldhaber, Cyrus Grout, Kim Harmon, Roddy Theobald (2018). A Practical Guide to Challenges and Opportunities in Student Teaching: A School District’s Perspective. CALDER Working Paper No. 205-1018-1
Student teaching has long been considered the most important component of an effective teacher education program. Recently, new research is finding links between these experiences and teacher candidates’ future effectiveness, yet relatively little is known about the student teacher placement process and, in particular, the processes that lead to the matching of teacher candidates to the in-service teachers who supervise their student teaching (“cooperating teachers”). In this study, we examine the match process as well as the factors that influence these placement decisions. We also explore how, if at all, practices vary across teacher education programs (TEPs), districts, and schools. We find that, in broad terms, the process for matching student teachers to mentor teachers is similar across educational institutions, although TEPs and school systems sometimes face competing priorities when placing student teachers in classrooms. We also identify a problem of information asymmetry in the placement process, which leaves TEPs with questions about how cooperating teachers are selected and districts and schools with limited information with which to make thoughtful and intentional matches between candidates and cooperating teachers. Finally, we document the important role of social networks in placements and how they can advantage some TEPs, districts, and schools in this process.
Citation: Elise St. John, Dan Goldhaber, John Krieg, Roddy Theobald (2018). How the Match Gets Made: Exploring Student Teacher Placements Across Teacher Education Programs, Districts, and Schools. CALDER Working Paper No. 204-1018-1
High teacher turnover imposes numerous costs on the schools and districts from which teachers depart. This study asks how schools respond to spells of high teacher turnover, and assesses organizational and human capital losses in terms of the changing composition of the teacher pool. Our analysis uses more than two decades of linked administrative data on math and ELA teachers at middle schools in North Carolina to determine school responses to turnover across different policy environments and macroeconomic climates. We find that, even after accounting for school contexts and trends, turnover has marked, and lasting, negative consequences for teacher quality and student achievement. Our results highlight the need for heightened policy attention to issues of teacher retention and working conditions.
WP 203-0918-1 was originally released in September 2018. An updated version was released in May 2019.
Accurate understanding of environmental moderation of genetic influences is vital to advancing the science of cognitive development as well as for designing interventions. One widely- reported idea is increasing genetic influence on cognition for children raised in higher socioeconomic status families, including recent proposals that the pattern is a particularly US phenomenon. We use matched birth and school records from Florida siblings and twins born in 1994-2002 to provide the largest, most population-diverse consideration of this hypothesis to date. We find no evidence of SES moderation of genetic influence on test scores, suggesting that articulating gene-environment interactions for cognition is more complex and elusive than previously supposed.
Citation: David Figlio, Jeremy Freese, Krzysztof Karbownik, Jeffrey Roth (2018). Socioeconomic Status and Genetic Influences on Cognitive Development. CALDER Working Paper No. 193
It is notoriously difficult to identify peer effects within the family because of the common shocks and reflection problems. We make use of a novel identification strategy and unique data in order to gain some purchase on this problem. We employ data from the universe of children born in Florida between 1994 and 2002 and in Denmark between 1990 and 2001, which we match to school and medical records. To address the identification problem, we examine the effects of having a sibling with a disability. Utilizing three-plus-child families, we employ a differences-in- differences research design which makes use of the fact that birth order influences the amount of time that a child spends in early childhood with their siblings, disabled or not. We observe consistent evidence in both locations that the second child in a family is differentially affected when the third child is disabled.
Citation: Sandra E. Black, Sanni Breining, David Figlio, Jonathan Guryan, Krzysztof Karbownik, Helena Skyt Nielsen, Jeffrey Roth, Marianne Simonsen (2018). Sibling Spillovers. CALDER Working Paper No. 192
We study the effects of access to high school math and science courses on postsecondary STEM enrollment and degree attainment using administrative microdata from Missouri. Our data panel includes over 140,000 students from 14 cohorts entering the 4-year public university system. The effects of high school course access are identified by exploiting plausibly exogenous variation in course offerings within high schools over time. We find that differential access to high school courses does not affect postsecondary STEM enrollment or degree attainment. Our null results are estimated precisely enough to rule out moderate impacts.
This paper was revised February 2019. It was originally released in February 2018.
Citation: Rajeev Darolia, Cory Koedel, Joyce B. Main, Felix Ndashimye, Junpeng Yan (2018). High School Course Access and Postsecondary STEM Enrollment and Attainment. CALDER Working Paper No. 186
This study examines the community-wide effects of two statewide early childhood policy initiatives in North Carolina. One initiative provides funding to improve the quality of child care services at the county level for all children between the ages of 0 to 5, and the other provides funding for preschool slots for disadvantaged four-year-olds. Differences across counties in the timing of the rollout and in the magnitude of the state financial investments per child provide the variation in programs needed to estimate their effects on schooling outcomes in third grade. We find robust positive effects of each program on third-grade test scores in both reading and math. These effects can best be explained by a combination of direct benefits for participants and spillover benefits for others. Our preferred models suggest that the combined average effects on test scores of investments in both programs at 2009 funding levels are equivalent to two to four months of instruction in grade 3.
Citation: Helen Ladd, Clara G. Muschkin, Kenneth A. Dodge (2015). From Birth to School: Early Childhood Initiatives and Third-Grade Outcomes in North Carolina. CALDER Working Paper No. 134
This study examines the community-wide effects of investments in two early childhood initiatives in North Carolina (Smart Start and More at Four) on the likelihood of a student being placed into special education. We take advantage of variation across North Carolina counties and years in the timing of the introduction and funding levels of the two programs to identify their effects on third-grade outcomes. We find that both programs significantly reduce the likelihood of special education placement in the third grade, resulting in considerable cost savings to the state. The effects of the two programs differ across categories of disability, but do not vary significantly across subgroups of children identified by race, ethnicity, and maternal education levels.
Citation: Clara Muschkin, Helen Ladd, Kenneth Dodge (2015). Impact of North Carolina’s Early Childhood Initiatives on Special Education Placements in Third Grade. CALDER Working Paper No. 121
In this paper, we present a closer look at the student achievement trends in the District of Columbia between 2006-07 and 2012-13. We have three main conclusions. First, we find that overall, math scores in the District have improved. The improvements in reading scores during this time frame, however, were primarily limited to the first year after the PERAA implementation. While almost all student subgroups have experienced test score gains in math, these improvements were higher among the more affluent black and Hispanic students. Second, we find that these observed trends in math scores persist even after controlling for the cross-cohort differences in observed student characteristics. In particular, the estimates indicate that less than 10 percent of the year-to-year improvements in test scores can be attributed to the changing student composition in the District over this time frame. Finally, we show that existing students have also experienced gains in math even though the students who are new to the District’s public school system score at higher levels on standardized tests when compared to existing students.
Citation: Umut Özek (2014). A Closer Look at the Student Achievement Trends in the District of Columbia between 2006-07 and 2012-13. CALDER Working Paper No. 119
This paper examines how banning affirmative action in university admissions affects both overall academic achievement and the racial gap in academic achievement prior to college entry. In particular, focusing on college-bound high school students, we use a difference-in- difference methodology to analyze the impact of the end of race-based affirmative action at the University of California in 1998 on both the overall level of SAT scores and high school GPA, and the racial gap in SAT scores and high school GPA. Our primary conclusion is that academic achievement changed very little after the ban.
Citation: Kate Antonovics, Benjamin Backes (2014). The Effect of Banning Affirmative Action on Human Capital Accumulation Prior to College Entry. CALDER Working Paper No. 114
Over 40% of full time four-year college students fail to earn a bachelor’s degree within six years, and many never complete their education. This paper describes this sizeable fraction of the U.S. higher education market and estimates counterfactual predicted probabilities of degree completion, had students made different initial postsecondary enrollment choices. Using data from the NLSY97, a rich nationally representative data set, we make several observations. First, policies aimed at increasing postsecondary degree attainment by encouraging college enrollment are likely to be unproductive, given that students who are currently not enrolling in postsecondary education have very low predicted probabilities of completion, due to their low academic preparedness. This holds true for enrollment in both two-year and four-year colleges. Second, we find that students who drop-out of four-year colleges generally also have very low predicted probabilities of completion, although this varies across student groups. Finally, we conclude that had four-year college drop-outs begun their postsecondary careers at a two-year college, their predicted probabilities of postsecondary degree completion would be significantly higher. While most of this increase in degree completion comes through increased associate’s degree attainment, about a third of four-year college drop-outs would have a higher chance of bachelor’s degree completion, had they begun college at a two-year institution. While our results are only a descriptive analysis, and should not be interpreted as causal findings, until more is understood about the types of students who drop-out of college and potential reasons why, there will likely be little progress in reducing the college failure rate in the U.S.
Citation: Erin Dunlop Velez (2014). America’s College Drop-Out Epidemic: Understanding the College Drop-Out Population. CALDER Working Paper No. 109
In this paper we will briefly review recent trends in employment outcomes for disadvantaged youth, focusing specifically on those who have become "disconnected" from school and the labor market, and why these trends have occurred. We then review a range of policy prescriptions that might improve those outcomes. These policies include: 1) Efforts to enhance education and employment outcomes, both among in-school youth who are at risk of dropping out and becoming disconnected as well as out-of-school youth who have already done so; 2) Policies to increase earnings and incent more labor force participation among youth, such as expanding the eligibility of childless adults (and especially non-custodial parents) for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC); and 3) Specific policies to reduce barriers to employment faced by ex-offenders and non-custodial parents (NCPs). We also consider policies that target the demand side of the labor market, in efforts to spur the willingness of employers to hire these young people and perhaps to improve the quality of jobs available to them.
Citation: Peter B. Edelman, Harry Holzer (2013). Connecting the Disconnected: Improving Education and Employment Outcomes Among Disadvantaged Youth. CALDER Working Paper No. 96
Current federal education policies promote learning in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) and the participation of minority students in these fields. Using longitudinal data on students in Florida and North Carolina, value-added estimates in math and science are generated to categorize schools into performance levels and identify differences in school STEM measures by performance levels. Several STEM-relevant variables show a significant association with effectiveness in math and science, including STEM teacher turnover, calculus and early algebra participation, and math and science instructional indices created from survey items in the data. Surprisingly, a negative association between students’ STEM course participation and success in STEM is consistently documented across both states, in addition to low participation of underrepresented minority students in successful schools in STEM.
Citation: Michael Hansen (2013). Characteristics of Schools Successful in STEM: Evidence from Two States’ Longitudinal Data. CALDER Working Paper No. 97
Students who do not have access to credit may not be able to complete their optimal level of post-secondary education. More than one out of every ten community college students nationwide attends a community college that does not allow access to federal college loans. This paper takes advantage of plausibly exogenous variation in whether a student's community college offers student loans to evaluate the effect of access to Stafford loans on student outcomes, including educational attainment, employment, and finances. Using the Beginning Postsecondary Student Study of 2004, I show that access to federal Stafford loans does not affect the decision to attend community college. However, I find that Stafford loan access increases overall borrowing among community college students by $262 a year and increases the likelihood of transferring to a four-year school by 5.6 percentage points. Additionally, for high-need and female students, loan access increases their total months of enrollment and dependent students' bachelor's degree attainment as well. These sizable effects of loan access on student behavior indicate that federal loans relax credit constraints for some community college students.
Citation: Erin Dunlop Velez (2013). What Do Stafford Loans Actually Buy You? - The Effect of Stafford Loan Access on Community College Students. CALDER Working Paper No. 94