Poverty and Inequality

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.

Child care in poor communities: Early learning effects of type, quality and stability

Young children in poor communities are spending more hours in non-parental care due to policy reforms and expansion of early childhood programs. Studies show positive effects of high-quality center-based care on children's cognitive growth. Yet we know little about the effects of center care typically available in poor communities or the effects of home-based care. Using a sample of children age 12 to 42 months when their mothers entered welfare-to-work programs, this paper finds positive cognitive effects for children in center care.

The narrowing gap in New York city teacher qualifications and its implications for student achievement in high-poverty schools

Studies have found substantial sorting of teachers across schools, with the schools with the highest proportions of poor, non-white, and low-scoring students having the least qualified teachers as measured by certification, exam performance, and inexperience (Lankford, Loeb and Wyckoff, 2002). Yet, there have been substantial changes in the educational policy landscape over the past five years. New laws, including the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), have changed requirements for teachers.

Measures of ordinal segregation

Purpose – To develop measures of segregation that are appropriate when either the groups or the organizational units are defined by ordered categories. These methods allow the measurement of segregation among groups defined by ordered educational attainment categories or among ordered occupational categories, for example.

Approach – I define a set of desirable properties of such measures, develop a general approach to constructing such measures, derive three such measures, and show that these measures satisfy the required properties.

Principal preferences and the uneven distribution of principals across schools

The authors use longitudinal data from one large school district to investigate the distribution of principals across schools. They find that schools serving many low-income, non-White, and low-achieving students have principals who have less experience and less education and who attended less selective colleges. This distribution of principals is partially driven by the initial match of first-time principals to schools, and it is exacerbated by systematic attrition and transfer away from these schools.

How do vouchers work? Evidence from Colombia

Some voucher skeptics argue that even if school vouchers benefit recipients, they do so by improving their peer groups at the expense of others’, and if so, there may be no net benefit to society as a whole. A necessary condition for this argument is that voucher recipients have more desirable peers than they otherwise would have. We take advantage of an educational voucher program in Colombia, for which spots were allocated by lottery, to identify a set of applicants for whom winning the voucher did not lead to attending schools with peers with superior observable characteristics.