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Indiana, Oklahoma, and Washington have programs designed to address college enrollment and completion 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 find that Washington’s College Bound Scholarship shifted enrollment from out-of-state to in-state colleges at which the scholarship could be used. While we find suggestive evidence that the program increased the likelihood of attending a postsecondary institution and attaining a bachelor’s degree within five years of high school, we discuss why the program might be more successful if it did not require students to sign a pledge.
Citation: Mark C. Long, Dan Goldhaber, Trevor Gratz (2019). Washington’s College Bound Scholarship Program and its Effect on College Entry, Persistence, and Completion. CALDER Working Paper No. 221-0919
We leverage nationally representative data and statewide data from Washington to investigate trends in occupational career and technical education (CTE) participation for students with and without disabilities. Consistent with prior work, we document declines in occupational CTE participation since the early 2000s, and provide the first empirical evidence that students with disabilities disproportionately contributed to this decline. But we also show that occupational CTE participation has stabilized for all students in the past decade in Washington, and that participation by students with disabilities in applied science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (applied STEMM) CTE courses has increased since the early 2000s. These trends are encouraging given prior evidence linking applied STEMM-CTE participation to better long-term outcomes for students with disabilities.
Citation: Roddy Theobald, Jay Plasman, Michael Gottfried, Trevor Gratz, Kristian Holden, Dan Goldhaber (2019). Sometimes Less, Sometimes More: Trends in Career and Technical Education Participation for Students With Disabilities. CALDER Working Paper No. 220-0819
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
We study the effect of preferences for boys on the performance in mathematics of girls, using evidence from two different data sources. In our first set of results, we identify families with a preference for boys by using fertility stopping rules in a large population of households whose children attend public schools in Florida. Girls growing up in a boy-biased family score on average 3 percentage points lower on math exams when compared to girls raised in other types of families. In our second set of results we find similar strong effects when we study the correlations between girls’ performance in mathematics and maternal gender role attitudes, using evidence from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. We conclude that socialization at home can explain a non-trivial part of the observed gender disparities in mathematics performance and document that maternal gender attitudes correlate with those of their children.
Citation: Gaia Dossi, David Figlio, Paola Giuliano, Paola Sapienza (2019). Born in the Family: Preferences for Boys and the Gender Gap in Math . CALDER Working Paper No. 216-0219-1
Free and reduced-price meal (FRM) data are used ubiquitously to proxy for student disadvantage in education research and policy applications. The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP)—a recently-implemented policy change to the federally-administered National School Lunch Program—allows schools serving low-income populations to identify all students as FRM-eligible regardless of individual circumstances. We study the CEP’s effect on FRM eligibility as a proxy for student disadvantage, and relatedly, we examine the viability of direct certification (DC) status as an alternative disadvantage measure. Our findings on whether the CEP degrades the informational content of FRM data are mixed. At the individual level there is essentially no effect, but the CEP does meaningfully change the information conveyed by the FRM-eligible share of students in a school. Our comparison of FRM and DC data in the post-CEP era shows that these measures are similarly informative as proxies for disadvantage, despite the CEP-induced information loss in FRM data. Using both measures together can improve the identification of disadvantaged students, but only marginally.
WP 214-0119-1 was originally released in January 2019. An updated version was released in April 2019.
Citation: Cory Koedel, Eric Parsons (2019). Using Free Meal and Direct Certification Data to Proxy for Student Disadvantage in the Era of the Community Eligibility Provision. CALDER Working Paper No. 214-0119-1
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. 194-0618-1
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
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
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
Stagnant earnings and growing inequality in the US labor market reflect both a slowdown in the growth of worker skills and the growing matching of good-paying jobs to skilled workers. Improving the ties between colleges, workforce institutions, and employers would help more workers gain the needed skills. Evaluation evidence shows that training programs linked to employers and good-paying jobs are often cost-effective. Helping more states develop such programs and systems would help raise worker earnings and reduce inequality.
Citation: Harry Holzer (2012). Good Workers for Good Jobs: Improving Education and Workforce Systems in the US. CALDER Working Paper No. 85
There has been a resurgence in research that investigates the efficacy of early investments as a means of reducing gaps in academic performance. However, the strongest evidence for these effects comes from experimental evaluations of small, highly enriched programs. We add to this literature by assessing the extent to which a large-scale public program, Texas's targeted pre-Kindergarten (pre-K), affects scores on math and reading achievement tests, the likelihood of being retained in grade, and the probability that a student receives special education services. We find that having participated in Texas's targeted pre-K program is associated with increased scores on the math and reading sections of the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS), reductions in the likelihood of being retained in grade, and reductions in the probability of receiving special education services. We also find that participating pre-K increases mathematics scores for students who take the Spanish version of the TAAS tests. These results show that even modest, public pre-K program implemented at scale can have important effects on students’ educational achievement.
Citation: Rodney J. Andrews, Paul Jargowsky, Kristin Kuhne (2012). The Effects of Texas’s Targeted Pre-Kindergarten Program on Academic Performance. CALDER Working Paper No. 84
This paper provides practical guidance for researchers who are designing and analyzing studies that randomize schools — which comprise three levels of clustering (students in classrooms in schools) — to measure intervention effects on student academic outcomes when information on the middle level (classrooms) is missing. This situation arises frequently in practice because many available data sets identify the schools that students attend but not the classrooms in which they are taught. Do studies conducted under these circumstances yield results that are substantially different from what they would have been if this information had been available? The paper first considers this problem in the context of planning a school randomized study based on preexisting two-level information about how academic outcomes for students vary across schools and across students within schools (but not across classrooms in schools). The paper next considers this issue in the context of estimating intervention effects from school-randomized studies. Findings are based on empirical analyses of four multisite data sets using academic outcomes for students within classrooms within schools. The results indicate that in almost all situations one will obtain nearly identical results whether or not the classroom or middle level is omitted when designing or analyzing studies.
Citation: Pei Zhu, Robin Jacob, Howard Bloom, Zeyu Xu (2011). Designing and Analyzing Studies that Randomize Schools To Estimate Intervention Effects on Student Academic Outcomes Without Classroom-Level Information. CALDER Working Paper No. 61
Teacher experience is a cornerstone of traditional single–salary schedules; it drives teacher transfer policies that prioritize seniority; and it is commonly considered a major source of inequity across schools and, therefore, a target for redistribution.The underlying assumption is that experience promotes effectiveness. But is this really the case? Do students attain higher levels of achievement when taught by more experienced teachers? Recent evidence from CALDER studies provides new insight into the effects of teacher experience.
Citation: Jennifer King Rice (2010). The Impact of Teacher Experience: Examining the Evidence and Policy Implications. CALDER Working Paper No.
Does differential access to computer technology at home compound the educational disparities between the rich and the poor? Would a program of government provision of computers to early secondary school students reduce these disparities? This study covers years 2000 to 2005, a period when home computers and high-speed Internet access expanded dramatically. Using administrative data on North Carolina public school students to corroborate earlier surveys that document broad racial and socioeconomic gaps in home computer access and use, the authors compared the children's reading and math scores before and after they acquired a home computer, and compared these scores to those of peers who had a home computer by fifth grade and to test scores of students who never acquired a home computer. The introduction of home computer technology is associated with modest but statistically significant and persistent negative impacts on student math and reading test scores. The authors also conclude that home computers are put to more productive use in households where parental monitoring is more effective. Further evidence suggests that providing universal access to home computers and high-speed internet access would broaden, rather than narrow, math and reading achievement gaps.
Citation: Jacob Vigdor, Helen Ladd (2010). Scaling the Digital Divide: Home Computer Technology and Student Achievement. CALDER Working Paper No. 48
The gold standard in making causal inference on program effects is a randomized trial. Most randomization designs in education randomize classrooms or schools rather than individual students. Such "clustered randomization" designs have one principal drawback: They tend to have limited statistical power or precision. This study aims to provide empirical information needed to design adequately powered studies that randomize schools using data from Florida and North Carolina. The authors assess how different covariates contribute to improving the statistical power of a randomization design and examine differences between math and reading tests; differences between test types (curriculum-referenced tests versus norm-referenced tests); and differences between elementary school and secondary school, to see if the test subject, test type, or grade level makes a large difference in the crucial design parameters. Finally they assess bias in 2-level models that ignore the clustering of students in classrooms.
Citation: Zeyu Xu, Austin Nichols (2010). New Estimates of Design Parameters for Clustered Randomization Studies: Findings from North Carolina and Florida. CALDER Working Paper No. 43
This paper describes the school mobility rates for elementary and middle school students in North Carolina and attempts to estimate the effect of school mobility on the performance of different groups of students using student fixed effects models. School mobility is defined as changing schools at times that are non-promotional (e.g., moving from middle to high school). We used detailed administrative data on North Carolina students and schools from 1996 to 2005 and followed four cohorts of 3rd graders for six years each. School mobility rates were highest for minority and disadvantaged students. School mobility rates for Hispanic students declined across successive cohorts, but increased for Black students. Findings on effects were most pronounced in math. School mobility hurt the math performance of Black and Hispanic students, but not the math performance of white students. School mobility improved the reading performance of white and more advantaged students, but had no effect on the reading performance of minority students. "Strategic" school moves (cross-district) benefitted or had no effect on student performance, but "reactive" moves (within district) hurt all groups of students. White and Hispanic students were more likely to move to a higher quality school while Blacks were more likely to move to a lower quality school. The negative effects of school mobility increased with the number of school moves.
Citation: Zeyu Xu, Jane Hannaway, Stephanie D'Souza (2009). Student Transience in North Carolina:The Effect of School Mobility on Student Outcomes Using Longitudinal Data. CALDER Working Paper No. 22
This research brief estimates the overall extent of test measurement error and how this varies across students using New York City student- level longitudinal data across grades 3-8 from 1999- 2007. Results reinforce the importance of accounting for measurement error, as it meaningfully increases effect size estimates associated with teacher attributes. There are important differences in teacher effectiveness that are systematically related to observed teacher attributes. Such effects are important in the formulation and implementation of personnel policies. Also, effect sizes as traditionally measured have led analysts to understate the magnitudes of effects because the standard deviation of observed scores overstates the dispersion of true achievement in the student population.
Citation: Donald Boyd, Pamela Grossman, Hamilton Lankford, Susanna Loeb, James Wyckoff (2008). Overview of Measuring Effect Sizes: The Effect of Measurement Error. CALDER Working Paper No.
This research brief describes the legal and operational structure of the Texas longitudinal data system related to recent changes in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA)—which establishes the rights of parents to access their children's educational records and protects the confidentiality of student information—that more closely align law and practice. The U.S. Department of Education's FERPA Final Regulations Amendments took effect January 8, 2009.
Citation: Daniel M. O'Brien (2008). The Texas FERPA Story. CALDER Working Paper No.