Agent-based Simulation Models of the College Sorting Process

We explore how dynamic processes related to socioeconomic inequality operate to sort students into, and create stratification among, colleges. We use an agent-based model to simulate a stylized version of this sorting processes in order to explore how factors related to family resources might influence college application choices and college enrollment. We include two types of “agents”—students and colleges—to simulate a two-way matching process that iterates through three stages: application, admission, and enrollment.

College Admission Testing in America

There is rarely a more anxiety inducing event for a high school student than sitting down to take a college admission test. Scores on the SAT or ACT, the two nationally recognized college admission tests in the United States, are an important component of the admission application to colleges and universities and help the admission officers decide whether or not to accept the student into the incoming class. Most of the selective colleges and universities require high scores for acceptance, and many competitive scholarships use admission test scores as one of several selection criteria.

Competition and the quality of public schools

A growing body of empirical research has provided provocative evidence that competition from private schools improves student achievement in neighboring public schools. However, this uniform conclusion has been based on fundamentally different empirical specifications. This study examines the importance of these different specifications by presenting new evidence on the relationship between public school quality and competition from private schools.

Do charter schools skim students or drain resources?

Two critical concerns with the rapid and ongoing expansion of charter schools are that they will segregate students and reduce the per-pupil resources available to conventional public schools. The contradictory prior evidence on such questions is based on potentially misleading cross-sectional comparisons. This study provides new evidence on these issues by conducting panel-based evaluations using school-level data from Arizona and neighboring states.

The effects of Catholic schooling on civic participation

The promotion of adult civic engagement is one of the primary goals of public schools. And the putatively negative effects of private schooling on civic engagement provide one of the most fundamental motivations for publicly provided schooling. In this study, I examine the comparative effects of Catholic and public high schools on adult voter participation and volunteering in the United States. I find that students who attended Catholic high schools are actually more likely to vote, though not volunteer, as adults.

School turnarounds: Evidence from the 2009 stimulus

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.

Increasing choice in the market for schools: Recent reforms and their effects on student achievement

Increased parental school choice has become a popular education reform strategy, but evidence of its effectiveness in improving student achievement is mixed. In this paper, we examine the rationale for school choice, obstacles to fulf lling its theoretical promise, and results observed to date. We supplement our discussion with data from a survey of Milwaukee principals. Survey f ndings suggest that school leaders feel competitive pressures from certain types of schools but tend to respond by improving their marketing efforts rather than their educational programs.

Student mobility in Milwaukee: The effects of school transfers on mobile and non-mobile students

This article explores student mobility in the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) and its effects on student achievement. An urban district with plentiful opportunities for school choice, Milwaukee has a transient student population. From 2003-04 through 2007-08, 11% of MPS students switched schools or left the district between the fall and spring of a given school year, while 22% were mobile between the spring of one year and the fall of the following year.

Private school racial enrollments and segregation

This report describes recent patterns of racial enrollments in private K-12 schools in the United States. It includes data from the federal government's most recent Private School Survey, which covers 1997-98. Results indicate that segregation levels are quite high among private schools, particularly among Catholic and other religious private schools. Black-white and Latino-white segregation is greater among private schools than public schools. White students are more racially isolated in private schools than public schools.