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Multiple outcomes of education

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Emma R. Hart, Drew H. Bailey, Sha Luo, Pritha Sengupta, Tyler W. Watts.

Fadeout is a pervasive phenomenon: post-test impacts on cognitive skills commonly decrease in the years following an educational intervention. Less is known, although much is theorized, about social-emotional skill persistence. The current meta-analysis investigated whether educational RCT impacts on social-emotional skills demonstrated greater persistence than impacts on cognitive skills among 87 interventions involving 59,237 participants and 443 outcomes measured at post-test and at least one follow-up. For post-test impacts of the same magnitude, persistence rates were similar (43% of post-test magnitude) across skill types for follow-ups occurring 6 to 12 months after post-test. At 1- to 2-year follow-ups, persistence rates were larger for cognitive skills (37%) than for social-emotional skills. Interestingly, smaller posttest impacts persisted at proportionately higher rates than larger impacts, which may benefit interventions measuring social-emotional outcomes given their smaller post-test impacts. Considered in whole, social-emotional and cognitive skills demonstrated similar patterns of fadeout.

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Haibin Jiang, Noman Khanani, Yan R. Leigh, Mary E. Walsh.

School mobility, compounding socioeconomic inequities, can undermine academic achievement and behavior, particularly during middle school years. This study investigates the effect of a school-based integrated student support intervention – City Connects – on the achievement and behavior of middle school students who experience school mobility. Using administrative data from a large, urban, public school district in the U.S., we apply student fixed effects and event studies methods to analyze the academic and behavioral performance of students changing schools. The results indicate that students who moved to schools implementing the City Connects intervention performed better academically and behaviorally than other students.

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Sandra E. Black, Lesley J. Turner, Jeffrey T. Denning.

In 2006, the federal government effectively uncapped student borrowing for graduate programs with the introduction of the Graduate PLUS loan program. Access to additional federal loans increased graduate students’ borrowing and shifted the composition of their loans from private to federal debt. However, the increase in borrowing limits did not improve access to existing programs overall or for underrepresented groups. Nor did access to additional loan aid result in significant increase in constrained students’ persistence or degree receipt. We document that among programs in which a larger share of graduate students had exhausted their annual federal loan eligibility before the policy change—and thus were more exposed to the expansion in access to credit—federal borrowing and prices increased.

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Eric A. Hanushek, Matthew Joyce-Wirtz.

School finance court cases have proceeded one or more times in all but two states. Plaintiffs ask the courts to rule that the existing funding formula is unconstitutional under state constitutions, and the defendants call for continuation of the existing finance formula. By compiling and analyzing the universe of such cases, we can accurately describe the nature of the cases, the decisions made, and the long run impact on overall financing of schools. Defendants win a slight majority of decisions with, surprisingly, their victories coming most frequently in low spending states and in low achieving states. And, while plaintiff victories on average yield an immediate increase in funding, they have no influence on long run growth in school spending.

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Paul Yoo, Thurston Domina, Andrew McEachin, Leah Clark, Hannah Hertenstein, Andrew M. Penner.

Virtual charter schools are increasingly popular, yet there is no research on the long-term outcomes of virtual charter students. We link statewide education records from Oregon with earnings information from IRS records housed at the US Census Bureau to provide evidence on how virtual charter students fare as young adults. Virtual charter students have substantially worse high school graduation rates, college enrollment rates, bachelor's degree attainment, employment rates, and earnings than students in traditional public schools. Although there is growing demand for virtual charter schools, our results suggest that students who enroll in virtual charters may face negative long-term consequences.

This paper is available exclusively at REACH until June 30, 2023.


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Dorottya Demszky, Jing Liu.

Although learners are being connected 1:1 with instructors at an increasing scale, most of these instructors do not receive effective, consistent feedback to help them improved. We deployed M-Powering Teachers, an automated tool based on natural language processing to give instructors feedback on dialogic instructional practices —including their uptake of student contributions, talk time and questioning practices — in a 1:1 online learning context. We conducted a randomized controlled trial on Polygence, a re-search mentorship platform for high schoolers (n=414 mentors) to evaluate the effectiveness of the feedback tool. We find that the intervention improved mentors’ uptake of student contributions by 10%, reduced their talk time by 5% and improves student’s experi-ence with the program as well as their relative optimism about their academic future. These results corroborate existing evidence that scalable and low-cost automated feedback can improve instruction and learning in online educational contexts.

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Margaret Leighton, Jamin D. Speer.

Expected earnings matter for college major choices, and majors differ in both their average earnings and the age profile of their earnings. We show that students' family background is strongly related to the earnings paths of the major they choose. Students with more educated parents, especially those who have graduate degrees, choose majors with lower early-career earnings but much faster earnings growth. They are also less likely to choose safe majors with little early-career earnings or unemployment downside. Parental income has a weaker relationship with major choice and operates mostly through the type of institution the student attends.

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Eric A. Hanushek, Jin Luo, Andrew J. Morgan, Minh Nguyen, Ben Ost, Steven G. Rivkin, Ayman Shakeel.

A fundamental question for education policy is whether outcomes-based accountability including comprehensive educator evaluations and a closer relationship between effectiveness and compensation improves the quality of instruction and raises achievement. We use synthetic control methods to study the comprehensive teacher and principal evaluation and compensation systems introduced in the Dallas Independent School District (Dallas ISD) in 2013 for principals and 2015 for teachers. Under this far-reaching reform, educator evaluations that are used to support teacher growth and determine salary depend on a combination of supervisor evaluations, student achievement, and student or family survey responses. The reform replaced salary scales based on experience and educational attainment with those based on evaluation scores, a radical departure from decades of rigid salary schedules. The synthetic control estimates reveal positive and significant effects of the reforms on math and reading achievement that increase over time. From 2015 through 2019, the average achievement for the synthetic control district fluctuates narrowly between -0.27 s.d. and -0.3 s.d., while the Dallas ISD average increases steadily from -0.28 s.d. in 2015 to -0.08 s.d. in 2019, the final year of the sample. Though the increase for reading is roughly half as large, it is also highly significant.

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Lucy C. Sorensen, Montserrat Avila Acosta, John Engberg, Shawn D. Bushway.

U.S. public school students increasingly attend schools with sworn law enforcement officers present. Yet, little is known about how these school resource officers (SROs) affect school environments or student outcomes. Our study uses a fuzzy regression discontinuity (RD) design with national school-level data from 2014 to 2018 to estimate the impacts of SRO placement. We construct this discontinuity based on the application scores for federal school based policing grants of linked police agencies. We find that SROs effectively reduce some forms of violence in schools, but do not prevent gun-related incidents. We also find that SROs intensify the use of suspension, expulsion, police referral, and arrest of students. These increases in disciplinary and police actions are consistently largest for Black students, male students, and students with disabilities.

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Benjamin Cowan, Todd R. Jones, Jeffrey Swigert.

We demonstrate how mothers, fathers, and 15–17-year-old students alter their schedules around the K-12 academic year. Using regression discontinuity (RDD) methods, combined with dates on school year start and end dates by locality, we document several notable results. First, mothers are substantially more affected by the school year than are fathers. When school is in session, mothers sleep less, spend more time caring for family members and driving them around, and spend less time on eating, free time and exercise. Fathers see changes that are generally similar in sign but smaller in magnitude compared to mothers. 15–17-year-olds naturally reduce time spent in educational pursuits when school is out (a decrease of about 5.5 hours per day on weekdays), and most of that time is substituted toward free time (an additional 2+ hours per day) and sleep (1+ hours per day). Our results provide a holistic picture of how families build their days around the K-12 school calendar and have implications for policies targeted toward women’s and teenage children’s health and well-being.

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