School turnarounds: Evidence from the 2009 stimulus


Thomas Dee

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The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) targeted substantial School ImprovementGrants (SIGs) to the nation’s “persistently lowest achieving” public schools (i.e., up to $2 millionper school annually over 3 years) but required schools accepting these awards to implement a federallyprescribed school-reform model. Schools that met the “lowest-achieving” and “lack of progress” thresholdswithin their state had prioritized eligibility for these SIG-funded interventions. Using data from California,this study leverages these two discontinuous eligibility rules to identify the effects of SIG-funded whole-schoolreforms. The results based on these “fuzzy” regression-discontinuity designs indicate that there weresignificant improvements in the test-based performance of schools on the “lowest-achieving” marginbut not among schools on the “lack of progress” margin. Complementary panel-based estimates suggestthat these improvements were largely concentrated among schools adopting the federal “turnaround”model, which compels more dramatic staff turnover.

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APA Citation

Dee, T. (2012). School turnarounds: Evidence from the 2009 stimulus.

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