Federal and State Education Policy

Performance Screens for School Improvement: The Case of Teacher Tenure Reform in New York City

Tenure is intended to protect teachers with demonstrated teaching skills against arbitrary or capricious dismissal. Critics of typical tenure processes argue that tenure assessments are superficial and rarely discern whether teachers in fact have the requisite teaching skills. A recent reform of the tenure process in New York City provides an unusual opportunity to learn about the role of tenure in teachers’ career outcomes. We find the reform led to many fewer teachers receiving tenure.

Teacher Turnover, Teacher Quality, and Student Achievement in DCPS

In practice, teacher turnover appears to have negative effects on school quality as measured by student performance. However, some simulations suggest that turnover can instead have large, positive effects under a policy regime in which low-performing teachers can be accurately identified and replaced with more effective teachers. This study examines this question by evaluating the effects of teacher turnover on student achievement under IMPACT, the unique performance-assessment and incentive system in the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS).

Teacher Workforce Developments: Recent Changes in Academic Competiveness and Job Satisfaction of New Teachers

The capacity of the nation’s public schools to recruit and retain highly skilled teachers is a perennial concern of policy makers and school leaders. Over the past two decades, major policy strategies including the federal No Child Left Behind Act and alternative pathways to teaching, as well as changes in the broader labor market, have altered the context in which academically skilled college graduates choose whether to enter teaching, and, if so, where to teach.

Will public pre-K really close achievement gaps? Gaps in prekindergarten quality between students and across states

Publicly funded pre-K is often touted as a means to narrow achievement gaps, but this goal is less likely to be achieved if poor/minority children do not, at a minimum, attend equal quality pre-K as their non-poor/non-minority peers. In this paper I find large “quality gaps” in public pre-K between poor/minority students and non-poor/non-minority students, ranging from 0.3 to 0.7 SD on a range of classroom observational measures. I also find that even after adjusting for several classroom characteristics, significant and sizable quality gaps remain.

What Levels of Racial Diversity can be Achieved with Socioeconomic-Based Affirmative Action? Evidence from a Simulation Model

This paper investigates to what extent socioeconomic status (SES)-based affirmative action in college admissions can produce racial diversity. Using simulation models, we investigate the racial and socioeconomic distribution of students among colleges under the use of race- or SES-based affirmative action policies, and/or targeted, race-based recruitment policies. We find, first, that neither SES-based affirmative action nor race-targeted recruiting on their own produce levels of racial diversity achieved by race-based affirmative action.

Teachers' Preferences to Teach Underserved Students

To increase the supply of teachers into underserved schools, teacher educators and policymakers commonly use two approaches: (a) recruit individuals who already report strong preferences to work in underserved schools or (b) design pre-service preparation to increase preferences. Using survey and administrative data on more than 1,000 teachers in a large, urban district, this study provides some of the first district-level evidence for both approaches. Individuals with stronger underserved preferences and teachers of color were more likely to enter underserved schools.

Who Loses Out? Registration Order, Course Availability, and Student Behaviors in Community College

In California, the combination of budget cuts and high unemployment from the Great Recession has resulted in "overcrowded" conditions, with more students attempting to enroll in fewer available classes. State-level policy recommendations have focused on altering registration priorities to mitigate the impact of overcrowding, but it is unclear whether these changes will impact enrollment as little is known about student behavior within these systems.

Spending More of the School Day in Math Class: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity in Middle School

For students whose math skills lag expectations, public schools often increase the fraction of the school day spent on math instruction. Studying middle-school students and using regression discontinuity methods, I estimate the causal effect of requiring two math classes—one remedial, one regular—instead of just one class. Math achievement grows much faster under the requirement, 0.16-0.18 student standard deviations.

Left Behind? The Effect of No Child Left Behind on Academic Achievement Gaps

One of the goals of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB; 20 U.S.C. § 6301) was to close racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps. Over a decade has passed since NCLB went into effect. In this paper we investigate whether the Act has been successful at narrowing racial achievement gaps. Overall, our analyses provide no support for the hypothesis that No Child Left Behind has led, on average, to a narrowing of racial achievement gaps.

The Impact of a Senior High School Tuition Relief Program on Poor Junior High School Students in Rural China

The authors would like to acknowledge the support of LICOS, K.U. Leuven. We also thank Jade Chien, a supporter/advisor of the Rural Education Action Project, and her family. The project could not have been done without the collaboration of the Ningshan County, Shiquan County and Hanying County bureaus of education. We thank Jiang Jun, the former head of Education Bureau of Ningshan, for support during the project. The students from Northwest University of Xi’an, especially Fan Li and Huan Wang, carried out the survey work. We thank each and every one of them.