Poverty and Inequality

The Effect of Primary School Mergers on Academic Performance of Students in Rural China

We examine the impact of primary school mergers on academic performance of students using a dataset that we collected using a survey designed specifically to examine changes in the academic performance of students before and after their schools were merged. We use difference-in-differences and propensity score matching approaches and demonstrate that overall the primary school merger has not harmed the academic performance of students, as some have claimed.

Learning-related behaviors and literacy achievement in elementary school-aged children

This longitudinal study investigated associations between children's learning-relatedbehaviors and literacyachievement in an ethnically diverse sample of low-income children throughout elementaryschool. Children's literacy and learning-relatedbehavior (e.g., working independently, seeking challenges) were assessed when they were in kindergarten or first grade and again in the third and fifth grades. The results showed fair consistency over time in both learning-relatedbehaviors and literacy skills.

Teaching practices in kindergarten and first grade: Different strokes for different folks

This study assessed the nature of instruction in 314 kindergarten and first-grade classrooms from 155 schools in 48 school districts in three states. The schools served a relatively high proportion of low-income children and children of color. Despite the restricted range in student populations served, qualities of the schools and observed classroom instruction were associated with the demographics of the student body. Schools serving relatively high proportions of low-income children and children of color were rated by teachers to have more negative social climates.

The race connection

In the mid-1960s, an acquaintance of mine was a young, timid teacher beginning her career in a virtually all-black high school on the South Side of Chicago. Even to this day, she recalls two events from that period. On one occasion, she saw a burly white male teacher telling a group of black teenagers that they were stupid and that they had better realize it. On another occasion, she observed as a classroom of unruly adolescents was silenced by the fixed stare of a black female teacher, whose disciplinary approach surely reminded many of their mothers at home.

Do High School Exit Exams Influence Educational Attainment or Labor Market Performance?

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is the latest in more than two decades of federal efforts to raise educational standards and an even longer stream of initiatives to improve education for poor children. What lessons can we draw from these earlier efforts to help NCLB achieve its goals? In Standards-Based Reform and the Poverty Gap: Lessons for No Child Left Behind, leading scholars in sociology, economics, psychology, and education policy take on this critical question.

Lotteries, litigation and education finance

In 1993, the state of Georgia instituted a lottery that earmarked new funds for instructional and capital expenditures in public schools. In that same year, Tennessee began court-ordered education finance reforms that were also designed to promote instructional and capital expenditures. Using district-level panel data, this study presents empirical evidence on how these disparate policies influenced the patterns of educational revenues by source and expenditures by function.

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.

A teacher like me: Does race, ethnicity or gender matter?

The large and persistent achievement gaps separating minority and nonminority students are arguably the most important educational problem in the United States. In particular, reducing or eliminating these gaps by raising the achievement of minority students is widely seen as a critical component of promoting broader social equality with respect to a variety of outcomes like educational attainment and earnings as well as crime, health, and family structure (e.g., Christopher Jencks and Meredith Phillips, 1998).

Teachers and the gender gaps in student achievement

A prominent class of explanations for the gender gaps in student outcomes focuses on the interactions between students and teachers. In this study, I examine whether assignment to a same-gender teacher influences student achievement, teacher perceptions of student performance, and student engagement. This study’s identification strategy exploits a unique matched-pairs feature of a major longitudinal study, which provides contemporaneous data on student outcomes in two different subjects.

Teacher sorting and the plight of urban schools: A descriptive analysis

This paper uses rich new data on New York State teachers to: determine how much variation in the average attributes of teachers exists across schools, identify schools that have the least-qualified teachers, assess whether the distribution has changed over time, and determine how the distribution of teachers is impacted by attrition and transfer, as well as by the job matches between teachers and schools at the start of careers. Our results show striking differences in the qualifications of teachers across schools.

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