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K-12 Education

Displaying 11 - 20 of 674

Takako Nomi, Darrin DeChane, Michael Podgursky.

Project Lead the Way (PLTW) is an applied STEM program first introduced nearly three decades ago to enhance the STEM content of Career Technical Education (CTE). Currently, more than 12,000 US high schools offer the program. Using data from three cohorts of public high school freshmen in Missouri, we investigate the impact of PLTW program offer (ITT) and participation (TOT) on initial post-secondary outcomes. We use a difference-in-difference (DiD) analysis for ITT and a principal score adjusted DiD to estimate TOT. The parallel trends assumption is explicitly tested. We find positive ITT impacts on STEM major declaration among students with higher STEM preparation levels, and this outcome improved substantially for PLTW participants. Impacts on college enrollment are less conclusive.

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Renzhi Jing, Sam Heft-Neal, Zetianyu Wang, Jie Chen, Minghao Qiu, Isaac M. Opper, Zachary Wagner, Eran Bendavid.

Increasing educational attainment is one of the most important and effective tools for health and economic improvements. The extent to which extreme climate events disrupt education, resulting in fewer years of schooling and reduced educational attainment, remains under-studied. Children in low- and middle-income countries may be uniquely vulnerable to loss of schooling after such disasters due to the poor physical condition of schools and the lack of resources to rebuild and mitigate unexpected household shocks. Our analysis assesses this overlooked social cost of tropical cyclones on schooling attainment.

We study the education records of nearly 5.1 million people living in 13 low- and middle-income countries that were exposed to tropical cyclones between 1954-2010. We find that exposure to tropical cyclones during preschool age is associated with a 2.7 percentage point decrease in primary school enrollment on average (14.2% decrease), with larger effects from more intense storms (up to 28% decrease for the most intense storms). These effects are more pronounced among school-age girls compared to boys and are greater in areas less accustomed to experiencing tropical cyclones. We estimate that, across all LMICs, tropical cyclone exposure has resulted in more than 410,000 children not attending primary school in the last 20 years, leading to a reduction of more than 4.1 million total years of schooling. These impacts, identified among some of the world’s poorest populations, may grow in importance as exposure to severe tropical cyclones is projected to increase with climate change.

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Brendan Bartanen, Aliza N. Husain, David D. Liebowitz, Laura K. Rogers.

Despite increasing recognition of the importance of high-quality school leadership, we know remarkably little about principal skill development. Using administrative data from Tennessee, Oregon, and New York City, we estimate the returns to principal experience as measured by student outcomes, teacher hiring and retention patterns, and teacher and supervisor ratings of principals. The typical principal leads a school for only 3–5 years and leaves the principalship after 6–7 years. We find little evidence that school performance improves as principals gain experience, despite substantial improvement in supervisor ratings. Our results suggest that strategies intended to increase principal retention are unlikely to improve school outcomes absent more comprehensive efforts to strengthen the link between principal skill development and student and school outcomes.

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Stefan Arora-Jonsson, Ema Kristina Demir, Axel Norgren, Karl Wennberg.

Research on school improvement has accumulated an extensive list of factors that facilitate turnarounds at underperforming schools. Given that contextual or resource constraints may limit the possibilities of putting all of these factors in place, an important question is what is necessary and sufficient to turn a school around. We use a qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) of 77 Swedish schools studied over 12 years to answer this question. Our core finding is that there is no “silver bullet” solution. There are, instead, several distinct combinations of factors that can enable a turnaround. The local school context is essential for which combinations of factors are necessary and sufficient for school turnaround. We discuss implications for research on school improvement and education policy.

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Carly D. Robinson, Katharine Meyer, Chasity Bailey-Fakhoury, Amirpasha Zandieh, Susanna Loeb.

College students make job decisions without complete information. As a result, they may rely on misleading heuristics (“interesting jobs pay badly”) and pursue options misaligned with their goals. We test whether highlighting job characteristics changes decision making. We find increasing the salience of a job’s monetary benefits increases the likelihood college students apply by 196%. In contrast, emphasizing prosocial, career, or social benefits has no effect, despite students identifying these benefits as primary motivators for applying. The study highlights the detrimental incongruencies in students’ decision making alongside a simple strategy for recruiting college students to jobs that offer enriching experiences.

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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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David Blazar, Danett Song, Ramon Goings, Jay Plasman, Michael Gottfried.

Despite substantial interest in Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses in U.S. high schools—and associated scholarship on this topic—very little is known about characteristics of CTE teachers who are a critical resource for program implementation and expansion. Using eight years of statewide data from Maryland, we document key facts about the CTE teacher workforce and pathways into the profession. First, a sizable share (17%) of CTE teachers enter the profession with a high school diploma or associate’s degree, aligned to state policy that allows Professional and Technical Education-certified teachers to substitute years of professional experience for higher degrees. Relatedly, CTE teachers are substantially more likely than non-CTE teachers to enter the profession through an “alternative” path that bypasses traditional undergraduate teacher education (54% versus 30%). Finally, there is a larger share of Black teachers in CTE versus out of CTE (25% versus 16%), leading to greater opportunities for teacher-student race matching. We hypothesize that these patterns are related: decreased barriers to entry into the CTE teaching profession may support more Black individuals to become CTE teachers.

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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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