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Inequality

Displaying 1 - 10 of 294

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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Alexandra de Gendre, Krzysztof Karbownik, Nicolas Salamanca, Yves Zenou.

We develop a multi-agent model of the education production function where investments of students, parents, and teachers are linked to the presence of minorities in the classroom. We then test the key implications of this model using rich survey data and a mandate to randomly assign students to classrooms. Consistent with our model, we show that exposure to minority peers decreases student effort, parental investments, and teacher engagement and it results in lower student test scores. Observables correlated with minority status explain less than a third of the reduced-form test score effect while over a third can be descriptively attributed to endogenous responses of the agents.

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Jeonghyeok Kim.

Each year, over a thousand public schools in the US close due to declining enrollments and chronic low performance, displacing hundreds of thousands of students. Using Texas administrative data and empirical strategies that use within-student across-time and within-school across-cohort variation, I explore the impact of school closures on students' educational and labor market outcomes. The findings indicate that experiencing school closures results in disruptions in both test scores and behavior. While the drop in test scores is recovered within three years, behavioral issues persist. This study further finds decreases in post-secondary education attainment, employment, and earnings at ages 25–27. These impacts are particularly pronounced among students in secondary education, Hispanic students, and those from originally low-performing schools and economically disadvantaged families.

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Steven Michael Carlo.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has tested the civic, or citizenship knowledge of students across the nation at irregular intervals since its very inception. Despite advancements in reading and mathematics, evidenced by results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), civics proficiency has remained consistently low, which raises concerns among educators and policymakers. This study attempts to provide those educators and policymakers with state-level predictions, not currently provided for the civics assessment. This research addresses this gap in state-level civics education data by applying multilevel regression with poststratification (MRP) to NAEP's nationally representative civics scores, yielding state-specific estimates that account for student demographics. A historical analysis of NAEP's development underscores its significance in national education and highlights the challenges of transitioning to state-level reporting, particularly for civics, which lacks state-level generalizability. Furthermore, this paper evaluates NAEP's frameworks, questioning their alignment with civics education's evolving needs, and investigates the presence of opportunity gaps in civics knowledge across gender and racial/ethnic lines. By comparing MRP estimates with published NAEP results, the study validates the method's credibility and emphasizes the potential of MRP in educational research. The findings reveal persistent racial/ethnic disparities in civic knowledge, with profound implications for civics instruction and policy. The research concludes by stressing the necessity for state-specific data to inform education policy and practice, advocating for teaching methods that enhance civic understanding and engagement, and suggesting future research directions to address the uncovered disparities.

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Brian Heseung Kim, Julie J. Park, Pearl Lo, Dominique J. Baker, Nancy Wong, Stephanie Breen, Huong Truong, Jia Zheng, Kelly Ochs Rosinger, OiYan Poon.

Letters of recommendation from school counselors are required to apply to many selective colleges and universities. Still, relatively little is known about how this non-standardized component may affect equity in admissions. We use cutting-edge natural language processing techniques to algorithmically analyze a national dataset of over 600,000 student applications and counselor recommendation letters submitted via the Common App platform. We examine how the length and topical content of letters (e.g., sentences about Personal Qualities, Athletics, Intellectual Promise, etc.) relate to student self-identified race/ethnicity, sex, and proxies for socioeconomic status. Paired with regression analyses, we explore whether demographic differences in letter characteristics persist when accounting for additional student, school, and counselor characteristics, as well as among letters written by the same counselor and among students with comparably competitive standardized test scores. We ultimately find large and noteworthy naïve differences in letter length and content across nearly all demographic groups, many in alignment with known inequities (e.g., many more sentences about Athletics among White and higher-SES students, longer letters and more sentences on Personal Qualities for private school students). However, these differences vary drastically based on the exact controls and comparison groups included – demonstrating that the ultimate implications of these letter differences for equity hinges on exactly how and when letters are used in admissions processes (e.g., are letters evaluated at face value across all students, or are they mostly compared to other letters from the same high school or counselor?). Findings do not point to a clear recommendation whether institutions should keep or discard letter requirements, but reflect the importance of reading letters and overall applications in the context of structural opportunity. We discuss additional implications and possible recommendations for college access and admissions policy/practice.

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Brian Holzman, Jeehee Han, Kalena E. Cortes, Bethany Lewis, Irina Chukhray.

This study investigates the role of college major choices in labor market outcomes, with a focus on racial minorities and immigrants. Drawing upon research on school-to-work linkages, we examine two measures, linkage, the connection between college majors and specific occupations in the labor market, and match, the alignment of workers’ occupations with their college majors. Analyzing data from the American Community Survey, 2013-2017, we show that linkage positively predicts earnings, particularly for workers in matched occupations, and negatively predicts unemployment. Notably, Black, Hispanic, and foreign-born workers in matched occupations benefit more from linkage strength than their White and U.S.-born counterparts. This advantage is more pronounced in states that are popular destinations for immigrants. Our findings suggest that earnings and unemployment disparities experienced among racial minorities and immigrants may diminish if they pursue majors closely tied to jobs in the labor market and secure jobs related to their college majors.

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Jack Mountjoy.

This paper studies the causal impacts of public universities on the outcomes of their marginally admitted students. I use administrative admission records spanning all 35 public universities in Texas, which collectively enroll 10 percent of American public university students, to systematically identify and employ decentralized cutoffs in SAT/ACT scores that generate discontinuities in admission and enrollment. The typical marginally admitted student completes an additional year of education in the four-year sector, is 12 percentage points more likely to earn a bachelor's degree, and eventually earns 5-10 percent more than their marginally rejected but otherwise identical counterpart. Marginally admitted students pay no additional tuition costs thanks to offsetting grant aid; cost-benefit calculations show internal rates of return of 19-23 percent for the marginal students themselves, 10-12 percent for society (which must pay for the additional education), and 3-4 percent for the government budget. Finally, I develop a method to disentangle separate effects for students on the extensive margin of the four-year sector versus those who would fall back to another four-year school if rejected. Substantially larger extensive margin effects drive the results.

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NaYoung Hwang.

This study examines the impact of special education on academic and behavioral outcomes for students with learning disabilities (LD) by using statewide Indiana data covering kindergarten through eighth grade. The results from student fixed effects models show that special education services improve achievement in math and English Language Arts, but they also increase suspensions and absences for students with LD. These effects vary across student subgroups, including gender, race/ethnicity, eligibility for free or reduced-price lunch, and English language learner status. The findings reveal both the significant benefits and unintended consequences of special education services for students with LD, highlighting the complex dynamics and varying effects of special education.

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Daniel Rodriguez-Segura, Savannah Tierney.

While learning outcomes in low- and middle-income countries are generally at low levels, the degree to which students and schools more broadly within education systems lag behind grade-level proficiency can vary significantly. A substantial portion of existing literature advocates for aligning curricula closer to the proficiency level of the “median child” within each system. Yet, amidst considerable between-school heterogeneity in learning outcomes, choosing a single instructional level for the entire system may still leave behind those students in schools far from this level. Hence, establishing system-wide curriculum expectations in the presence of significant between-school heterogeneity poses a significant challenge for policymakers — especially as the issue of between-school heterogeneity has been relatively unexplored by researchers so far. This paper addresses the gap by leveraging a unique dataset on foundational literacy and numeracy outcomes, representative of six public educational systems encompassing over 900,000 enrolled children in South Asia and West Africa. With this dataset, we examine the current extent of between-school heterogeneity in learning outcomes, the potential predictors of this heterogeneity, and explore its potential implications for setting national curricula for different grade levels and subjects. Our findings reveal that between-school heterogeneity can indeed present both a severe pedagogical hindrance and challenges for policymakers, particularly in contexts with relatively higher levels of performance and in the higher grades. In response to meaningful between-system heterogeneity, we also demonstrate through simulation that a more nuanced, data-driven targeting of curricular expectations for different schools within a system could empower policymakers to effectively reach a broader spectrum of students through classroom instruction.

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Kelli A. Bird, Benjamin L. Castleman.

Recent work highlights the challenge of scaling evidence-based educational programs. We report on a randomized controlled trial of a financial incentive program designed to increase the efficacy of a national remote college advising initiative for high-achieving students. We find substantial positive effects of the program on student engagement with college advisors; applications to well-matched colleges and universities; and review of financial aid awards. Yet treated students were no more likely to enroll at higher-quality institutions. Student survey responses suggest that institutional admissions and affordability barriers, alongside student preferences to attend institutions closer to home, explain the lack of enrollment effects.

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