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Matthew A. Kraft, Virginia S. Lovison.

Budget constraints and limited supplies of local tutors have caused many K-12 school districts to pivot from individual tutoring in-person toward small-group tutoring online to expand access to personalized instruction. We conduct a field experiment to explore the effect of increasing student-tutor ratios on middle school students’ math achievement and growth during an online tutoring program. We leverage a novel feature of the program where tutors often taught individual and small-group tutoring sessions, allowing them to directly compare their experiences across these settings. Both experimental estimates and tutor survey responses suggest 1:1 tutoring is more effective than 3:1 tutoring online. Tutoring small groups in an online format presents additional challenges for personalizing instruction, developing relationships, fostering participation, and managing student behavior.

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Carleton H. Brown, David S. Knight.

This manuscript explores the argument for lower student-to-school counselor ratios in U.S. public education. Drawing upon a comprehensive historical review and existing research, we establish the integral role of school counselors and the notable benefits of reduced student-tocounselor ratios. Our analysis of national data exposes marked disparities across states and districts, with the most underfunded often serving higher percentages of low-income students and students of color. This situation raises significant ethical concerns, prompting a call for conscientious policy reform and targeted investment. Informed by emerging best practices, we propose recommendations for enhancing counselor staffing and ultimately student outcomes. This ethical argument underscores the need for proactive actions and provides a basis for future research to further delineate the impact of school counselor ratios on educational equity and student success.

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Jilli Jung, Andrew Fenelon.

A later school start time policy has been recommended as a solution to adolescents’ sleep deprivation. We estimated the impacts of later school start times on adolescents’ sleep and substance use by leveraging a quasi-experiment in which school start time was delayed in some regions in South Korea. A later school start time policy was implemented in 2014 and 2015, which delayed school start times approximately 30-90 minutes. We applied difference-in-differences and event-study designs to longitudinal data on a nationally-representative cohort of adolescents from 2010 to 2015, which annually tracked sleep and substance use of 1,133 adolescents from grade 7 through grade 12. The adoption of a later school start time policy was initially associated with a 19-minute increase in sleep duration (95% CI, 5.52 to 32.04), driven by a delayed wake time and consistent bedtime. The policy was also associated with statistically significant reductions in monthly smoking and drinking frequencies. However, approximately a year after implementation, the observed increase in sleep duration shrank to 7-minute (95% CI, -12.60 to 25.86) and became statistically nonsignificant. Similarly, the observed reduction in smoking and drinking was attenuated a year after. Our findings suggest that policies that increase sleep in adolescents may have positive effects on health behaviors, but additional efforts may be required to sustain positive impacts over time. Physicians and education and health policymakers should consider the long-term effects of later school start times on adolescent health and well-being.

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Gema Zamarro, Andrew Camp, Josh McGee, Taylor Wilson, Miranda Vernon.

Attracting and retaining high-quality teachers is a pressing policy concern. Increasing teacher salaries and creating more attractive compensation packages are often proposed as a potential solution. Signed into law in March 2023, the LEARNS Act increased Arkansas's minimum teacher salary from $36,000 to $50,000, guaranteed all teachers a minimum raise of $2,000, and added flexibility allowing school districts to deviate from seniority-based traditional salary schedules. To study school districts’ adjustments to the new legislation, we collected information about districts' teacher compensation policies one year before and the first year of implementation. We also integrated this data with teachers' administrative records to study patterns of teacher retention and mobility. Our results reveal a more equitable distribution of starting teacher salaries across districts, with minimal variation. The LEARNS Act notably increased funding for rural and high-poverty districts, mitigating the negative association between starting salaries and district poverty rates. However, the initial effects on teacher retention and mobility were modest. While some positive trends emerged, such as reduced probabilities of teachers transitioning to non-instructional roles and increased new teacher placement in geographic areas of shortage, broader impacts on retention and mobility were limited in the first year of implementation.

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Justin C. Ortagus, Hope Allchin, Benjamin Skinner, Melvin Tanner, Isaac McFarlin.

Most students who begin at a community college do not complete their desired credential. Many former students fail to graduate due to various barriers rather than their academic performance. To encourage previously successful non-completers to re-enroll and eventually graduate, a growing number of community colleges have implemented re-enrollment campaigns focused on former students who have already made substantial progress toward graduation. In this study, we randomly assigned over 27,000 former community college students to a control group, “information-only” treatment group, or “information and one-course waiver” treatment group to examine whether re-enrollment campaigns can improve their likelihood of long-term persistence and credential completion. Although we showed in earlier work that the “information and one-course waiver” treatment had a positive impact on former students’ likelihood of re-enrollment, our findings reveal the re-enrollment intervention has no effect on students’ likelihood of long-term persistence or credential completion for the pooled sample or any subgroup of interest, including low-income students, racially minoritized students, or adult students. Simply put, this particular re-enrollment intervention including one-time, one-course tuition waivers increased former students’ likelihood of re-enrollment but was not an effective lever to increase long-term academic outcomes among previously successful community college students who departed early without earning a credential.

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Andrew Camp.

The four-day school week is a school calendar that has become increasingly common following the COVID-19 pandemic. Proponents of the calendar often claim that offering teachers a regular 3-day weekend will help schools better retain existing teachers and recruit new teachers to their district without incurring additional costs due to higher salaries or other pecuniary benefits. However, there is scant empirical evidence assessing these claims. I use difference-in-differences and synthetic difference-in-differences models to assess the impact of four-day school week calendars on teacher retention and teacher quality in Arkansas. I find evidence that the calendar may help retain teachers who otherwise would have moved to another school and suggestive evidence that retention in non-adopting schools may be harmed by the four-day school week adoption in nearby districts. Results examining changes in teacher quality are inconclusive. These results have significant implications given the rapid growth in four-day school week calendars in recent years.

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Kaitlyn G. O'Hagan, Zitsi Mirakhur.

There is limited empirical evidence about educational interventions for students experiencing homelessness, who experience distinct disadvantages compared to their low-income peers. We explore how two school staffing interventions in New York City shaped the attendance outcomes of students experiencing homelessness using administrative records from 2013-2022 and a difference-in-differences design. We find suggestive evidence that one intervention, which placed social workers in schools, increased the average attendance rates of students in shelter by 1-3 percentage points after 3-5 years. We discuss implications for the importance of non-instructional school staff and strategies to serve homeless students.

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Shelby M. McNeill, Christopher A. Candelaria.

This study investigates how individual states raise revenue to pay for elementary-secondary education spending following school finance reforms (SFRs). We identify states that increased and sustained education expenditures after reform, search for legislative statutes that appropriated more education spending, and assess how policymakers funded the SFRs. Our results show that state legislatures increase investments in education by increasing tax revenue streams, such as sales and excise taxes, and by taking over property tax collections. Considering these results, we discuss that increased state investment in education should be accompanied by a policy mechanism to distribute state aid equitably to districts. Moreover, policymakers should consider local voters’ preferences when implementing SFR policies, as tax increases may reduce local fiscal effort for education.

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Shirin A. Hashim, Mary E. Laski.

Researchers have posited various theories to explain supposed declines in teaching quality: the expansion of labor market opportunities for women, low relative wages, compressed compensation structures, and substituting quantity for quality. We synthesize these previous theories and expand on the current literature by incorporating a useful comparison group: the nursing workforce. We document historical trends in skill level, average and relative wages, wage dispersion, unionization rates, and quantity, and find important divergences in the teaching and nursing professions that cannot be explained by previous theories. We posit two new theories that align with our documented trends: technological innovation and occupational differentiation in nursing. We argue that trends in the nursing profession indicate that declines in teaching quality were (and are) not inevitable.

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Constance A. Lindsay, Simone Wilson, Jacqueline Kumar, Tia Byers, Seth Gershenson.

This paper investigates how teachers learn about race in the school context, with a particular focus on teachers’ development of racial competency. Using in-depth, semi-structured interviews we find that teachers learn through three sources: from their peers, from years of experience, and from teacher preparation and in-service experiences. Furthermore, we find that learning occurs both informally and formally and that these sources of learning are moderated by three contextual factors: career status, school culture, and out-of-school factors We find that teachers rely most on informal avenues and encounters to develop racial competency.

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