Education

  • Sean Reardon

Leader: Sean Reardon

The purpose of the Education RG is to examine trends in the extent to which educational access and achievement are related to poverty and family background. The scholars working within this RG are examining state-level differences in the effects of social origins, uncovering the causes of the recent rise in the socioeconomic achievement gap, uncovering the causes of the yet more recent turnaround in this rise (among kindergarten children), and examining the ways in which high-achieving children from poor backgrounds can be induced to go to college. The following is a sampling of relevant CPI projects.

Reducing the race gap in test scores: How can the black-white gap in achievement test scores be eliminated? The new Stanford Education Data Archive (SEDA) will provide the most systematic evidence to date on the capacity of school-district policies to reduce the gap.

Colleges and rising income inequality: Are colleges delivering upward mobility for those raised in poverty? The new “Mobility Report Card” will provide unusually detailed data on this fundamental question.

Poverty and schooling on reservations: The noted ethnographer Martin Sánchez-Jankowski is examining how education on reservations can be reformed to reduce dropout, poverty, and suicide. 

Education - CPI Research

Title Author Media
Opportunity without Equity: Educational Inequality and Constitutional Protections in Egypt Michelle Jackson, Elizabeth Buckner

Opportunity without Equity: Educational Inequality and Constitutional Protections in Egypt

Author: Michelle Jackson, Elizabeth Buckner
Publisher: Sociological Science
Date: 08/2016

The claim that the law can be an inequality-reducing weapon is a staple of legal and political discourse. Although it is hard to dispute that legal provisions sometimes work to reduce inequality, we argue that, at least in the domain of equal opportunity in education, the pattern of these effects can be more perverse than has typically been appreciated. Positive laws implemented in the name of promoting equality of opportunity may yield only a narrowly formal equality, with the goal of substantive equality undermined because a high-profile reform will often expose the pathway to educational success. The pathway, once exposed, can then be navigated and successfully subverted by the socioeconomically advantaged. We illustrate such pitfalls of a positive legal approach by examining educational inequality in Egypt, a country with long-standing constitutional protections for equality of opportunity in education. Using data recently collected from a cohort of young people, we show that despite the institutional commitments to equality of opportunity present in Egypt, privileged families have a range of options for subverting the aims of positive legal provisions. We argue that the pattern of educational inequality in Egypt is distinctive relative to countries without similar legal protections.

Socioeconomic Gaps in Early Childhood Experiences Daphna Bassok, Jenna E. Finch, RaeHyuck Lee, Sean F. Reardon, Jane Waldfogel

Socioeconomic Gaps in Early Childhood Experiences

Author: Daphna Bassok, Jenna E. Finch, RaeHyuck Lee, Sean F. Reardon, Jane Waldfogel
Publisher: AERA Open
Date: 08/2016

This study compares the early life experiences of kindergarteners in 1998 and 2010 using two nationally representative data sets. We find that (a) young children in the later period are exposed to more books and reading in the home, (b) they have more access to educational games on computers, and (c) they engage with their parents more, inside and outside the home. Although these increases occurred among low- and high-income children, in many cases the biggest changes were seen among the lowest-income children. Our results indicate narrowing but still large early childhood parental investment gaps. In addition, socioeconomic gaps in preschool participation grew over this period, despite substantial investments in public preschool. Implications for early socioeconomic achievement gaps are discussed.

Recent Trends in Income, Racial, and Ethnic School Readiness Gaps at Kindergarten Entry Sean F. Reardon, Ximena A. Portilla

Recent Trends in Income, Racial, and Ethnic School Readiness Gaps at Kindergarten Entry

Author: Sean F. Reardon, Ximena A. Portilla
Publisher: AERA Open
Date: 08/2016

Academic achievement gaps between high- and low-income students born in the 1990s were much larger than between cohorts born two decades earlier. Racial/ethnic achievement gaps declined during the same period. To determine whether these two trends have continued in more recent cohorts, we examine trends in several dimensions of school readiness, including academic achievement, self-control, externalizing behavior, and a measure of students’ approaches to learning, for cohorts born from the early 1990s to the 2000–2010 midperiod. We use data from nationally representative samples of kindergarteners (ages 5–6) in 1998 ( n = 20,220), 2006 ( n = 6,600), and 2010 ( n = 16,980) to estimate trends in racial/ethnic and income school readiness gaps. We find that readiness gaps narrowed modestly from 1998 to 2010, particularly between high- and low-income students and between White and Hispanic students.

Association, Service, Market: Higher Education in American Political Development Mitchell L. Stevens

Association, Service, Market: Higher Education in American Political Development

Author: Mitchell L. Stevens
Publisher: Annual Review of Sociology
Date: 07/2016

US higher education has enjoyed growing attention from social scientists and historians. We integrate recent scholarship by framing a political and historical sociology of the sector and we show how higher education has been central to projects of nation building and social provision throughout the course of American political development. US higher education has three institutional configurations: an associational one, defined by voluntary intramural organizations; a national service one, defined by massive government patronage; and a market one, defined by competition for students, patrons, and prestige. Continuity and change over time may be understood with the theoretical tools of historical sociology: path dependence, coalescence, and robust action. Our review substantiates assertions of deep turbulence in US higher education at present and calls for a closer integration of scholarship on state building and social stratification to inform the future.

Settling In: The Role of Individual and Departmental Tactics in the Development of New Faculty Networks Susan S. Fleming, Alyssa W. Goldman, Shelley J. Correll, Catherine J. Taylor

Settling In: The Role of Individual and Departmental Tactics in the Development of New Faculty Networks

Author: Susan S. Fleming, Alyssa W. Goldman, Shelley J. Correll, Catherine J. Taylor
Publisher: The Journal of Higher Education
Date: 07/2016

Network formation is a key element of newcomer socialization; however, little is understood about how newcomer networks are formed in higher education. Drawing on a series of interviews with 34 new pre-tenure faculty members, we propose that just as individual and organizational socialization tactics interactively influence newcomer adjustment (Gruman, Saks, & Zweig, 2006), so too will they affect new faculty experiences with network formation. Our findings support this proposal; that is, individual employee characteristics, the practices of specific departments within the larger university, and the interaction between the two, create different degrees of network integration for faculty. Further, we find that in the context of university departments, organizational tactics may have a more significant effect on network development (and potentially other socialization outcomes) than those that stem from the individual. Building upon these findings, we also identify factors that facilitate new faculty network development and use these factors to suggest practical guidance for universities striving to enhance new faculty integration.

Education - CPI Affiliates

David Harding Incarceration Research Group Leader; Associate Professor of Sociology University of California, Berkeley
Greg J. Duncan Life Course Research Group Leader; Distinguished Professor of Education University of California, Irvine
Sean Reardon Education Research Group Leader; Life Course Research Group Leader; Professor of Poverty and Inequality Stanford University
Andrew Penner Associate Professor of Sociology University of California, Irvine
Anna Chmielewski Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership and Policy University of Toronto

Pages

Education - Other Research

Title Author Media
Behavioral and Statistical Models of Educational Inequality Anders Holm, Richard Breen

Behavioral and Statistical Models of Educational Inequality

Author: Anders Holm, Richard Breen
Publisher: Rationality and Society
Date: 06/2016

This article addresses the question of how students and their families make educational decisions. We describe three types of behavioral model that might underlie decision-making, and we show that they have consequences for what decisions are made. Our study, thus, has policy implications if we wish to encourage students and their families to make better educational choices. We also establish the conditions under which empirical analysis can distinguish between the three sorts of decision-making, and we illustrate our arguments using data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study.

Reducing Income Inequality in Educational Attainment: Experimental Evidence on the Impact of Financial Aid on College Completion Sara Goldrick-Rab, Robert Kelchen, Douglas N. Harris, James Benson

Reducing Income Inequality in Educational Attainment: Experimental Evidence on the Impact of Financial Aid on College Completion

Author: Sara Goldrick-Rab, Robert Kelchen, Douglas N. Harris, James Benson
Publisher: American Journal of Sociology
Date: 05/2016

Income inequality in educational attainment is a long-standing concern, and disparities in college completion have grown over time. Need-based financial aid is commonly used to promote equality in college outcomes, but its effectiveness has not been established, and some are calling it into question. A randomized experiment is used to estimate the impact of a private need-based grant program on college persistence and degree completion among students from low-income families attending 13 public universities across Wisconsin. Results indicate that offering students additional grant aid increases the odds of bachelor’s degree attainment over four years, helping to diminish income inequality in higher education.

‘Membership Has Its Privileges’: Status Incentives and Categorical Inequality in Education Thurston Domina, Andrew M. Penner, Emily K. Penner

‘Membership Has Its Privileges’: Status Incentives and Categorical Inequality in Education

Author: Thurston Domina, Andrew M. Penner, Emily K. Penner
Publisher: Sociological Science
Date: 05/2016

Prizes – formal systems that publicly allocate rewards for exemplary behavior – play an increasingly important role in a wide array of social settings, including education. In this paper, we evaluate a prize system designed to boost achievement at two high schools by assigning students color-coded ID cards based on a previously low stakes test. Average student achievement on this test increased in the ID card schools beyond what one would expect from contemporaneous changes in neighboring schools. However, regression discontinuity analyses indicate that the program created new inequalities between students who received low-status and high-status ID cards. These findings indicate that status-based incentives create categorical inequalities between prize winners and others even as they reorient behavior toward the goals they reward.

What Predicts Children’s Fixed and Growth Intelligence Mind-Sets? Not Their Parents’ Views of Intelligence but Their Parents’ Views of Failure Kyla Haimovitz, Carol S. Dweck

What Predicts Children’s Fixed and Growth Intelligence Mind-Sets? Not Their Parents’ Views of Intelligence but Their Parents’ Views of Failure

Author: Kyla Haimovitz, Carol S. Dweck
Publisher: Psychological Science
Date: 04/2016

Children’s intelligence mind-sets (i.e., their beliefs about whether intelligence is fixed or malleable) robustly influence their motivation and learning. Yet, surprisingly, research has not linked parents’ intelligence mind-sets to their children’s. We tested the hypothesis that a different belief of parents—their failure mind-sets—may be more visible to children and therefore more prominent in shaping their beliefs. In Study 1, we found that parents can view failure as debilitating or enhancing, and that these failure mind-sets predict parenting practices and, in turn, children’s intelligence mind-sets. Study 2 probed more deeply into how parents display failure mind-sets. In Study 3a, we found that children can indeed accurately perceive their parents’ failure mind-sets but not their parents’ intelligence mind-sets. Study 3b showed that children’s perceptions of their parents’ failure mind-sets also predicted their own intelligence mind-sets. Finally, Study 4 showed a causal effect of parents’ failure mind-sets on their responses to their children’s hypothetical failure. Overall, parents who see failure as debilitating focus on their children’s performance and ability rather than on their children’s learning, and their children, in turn, tend to believe that intelligence is fixed rather than malleable.

The Value of Postsecondary Credentials in the Labor Market: An Experimental Study David J. Deming , Noam Yuchtman , Amira Abulafi , Claudia Goldin , Lawrence F. Katz

The Value of Postsecondary Credentials in the Labor Market: An Experimental Study

Author: David J. Deming , Noam Yuchtman , Amira Abulafi , Claudia Goldin , Lawrence F. Katz
Publisher: American Economic Review
Date: 03/2016

We study employers' perceptions of the value of postsecondary degrees using a field experiment. We randomly assign the sector and selectivity of institutions to fictitious resumes and apply to real vacancy postings for business and health jobs on a large online job board. We find that a business bachelor's degree from a for-profit online institution is 22 percent less likely to receive a callback than one from a nonselective public institution. In applications to health jobs, we find that for-profit credentials receive fewer callbacks unless the job requires an external quality indicator such as an occupational license.