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
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.

A Vicious Cycle: A Social–Psychological Account of Extreme Racial Disparities in School Discipline Jason A. Okonofua, Greg Walton, Jennifer L. Eberhardt

A Vicious Cycle: A Social–Psychological Account of Extreme Racial Disparities in School Discipline

Author: Jason A. Okonofua, Greg Walton, Jennifer L. Eberhardt
Publisher: Perspectives on Psychological Science
Date: 05/2016

Can social–psychological theory provide insight into the extreme racial disparities in school disciplinary action in the United States? Disciplinary problems carry enormous consequences for the quality of students’ experience in school, opportunities to learn, and ultimate life outcomes. This burden falls disproportionately on students of color. Integrating research on stereotyping and on stigma, we theorized that bias and apprehension about bias can build on one another in school settings in a vicious cycle that undermines teacher–student relationships over time and exacerbates inequality. This approach is more comprehensive than accounts in which the predicaments of either teachers or students are considered alone rather than in tandem, it complements nonpsychological approaches, and it gives rise to novel implications for policy and intervention. It also extends prior research on bias and stigmatization to provide a model for understanding the social–psychological bases of inequality more generally.

Brief intervention to encourage empathic discipline cuts suspension rates in half among adolescents Jason A. Okonofua, David Paunesku, Greg Walton

Brief intervention to encourage empathic discipline cuts suspension rates in half among adolescents

Author: Jason A. Okonofua, David Paunesku, Greg Walton
Publisher: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Date: 05/2016

Growing suspension rates predict major negative life outcomes, including adult incarceration and unemployment. Experiment 1 tested whether teachers (n = 39) could be encouraged to adopt an empathic rather than punitive mindset about discipline—to value students’ perspectives and sustain positive relationships while encouraging better behavior. Experiment 2 tested whether an empathic response to misbehavior would sustain students’ (n = 302) respect for teachers and motivation to behave well in class. These hypotheses were confirmed. Finally, a randomized field experiment tested a brief, online intervention to encourage teachers to adopt an empathic mindset about discipline. Evaluated at five middle schools in three districts (Nteachers = 31; Nstudents = 1,682), this intervention halved year-long student suspension rates from 9.6% to 4.8%. It also bolstered respect the most at-risk students, previously suspended students, perceived from teachers. Teachers’ mindsets about discipline directly affect the quality of teacher–student relationships and student suspensions and, moreover, can be changed through scalable intervention.

Educational Authority in the ‘‘Open Door’’ Marketplace Labor Market Consequences of For-profit, Nonprofit, and Fictional Educational Credentials Nicole M. Deterding, David S. Pedulla

Educational Authority in the ‘‘Open Door’’ Marketplace Labor Market Consequences of For-profit, Nonprofit, and Fictional Educational Credentials

Author: Nicole M. Deterding, David S. Pedulla
Publisher: Sociology of Education
Date: 05/2016

In recent years, private for-profit education has been the fastest growing segment of the U.S. postsecondary system. Traditional hiring models suggest that employers clearly and efficiently evaluate college credentials, but this changing institutional landscape raises an important question: How do employers assess credentials from emerging institutions? Building on theories of educational authority, we hypothesize that employers respond to an associate’s degree itself over the institution from which it came. Using data from a field experiment that sent applications to administrative job openings in three major labor markets, we found that employers responded similarly to applicants listing a degree from a fictional college and applicants listing a local for-profit or nonprofit institution. There is some evidence that educational authority is incomplete, but employers who prefer degree-holders do not appear to actively evaluate institutional quality. We conclude by discussing implications of our work for research on school to labor market links within the changing higher education marketplace.

Linking U.S. School District Test Score Distributions to a Common Scale, 2009-2013 Sean F. Reardon, Demetra Kalogrides, Andrew Ho

Linking U.S. School District Test Score Distributions to a Common Scale, 2009-2013

Author: Sean F. Reardon, Demetra Kalogrides, Andrew Ho
Publisher: Stanford Center for Education Policy Analysis
Date: 04/2016

In the U.S., there is no recent database of district-level test scores that is comparable across states. We construct and evaluate such a database for years 2009-2013 to support large-scale educational research. First, we derive transformations that link each state test score scale to the scale of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Next, we apply these transformations to a unique nationwide database of district-level means and standard deviations, obtaining estimates of each districts’ test score distribution expressed on the NAEP measurement scale. We then conduct a series of validation analyses designed to assess the validity of key assumptions underlying the methods and to assess the extent to which the districts’ transformed distributions match the districts’ actual NAEP score distributions (for a small subset of districts where the NAEP assessments are administered). We also examine the correlations of our estimates with district test score distributions on a second “audit test”—the NWEA MAP test, which is administered to populations of students in several thousand school districts nationwide. Our linking method yields estimated district means with a root mean square deviation from actual NAEP scores of roughly 1/10th of a standard deviation unit in any single year or grade. The correlations of our estimates with average district means over years and grades are .97-.98 for NAEP and 0.93 for the NWEA test. We conclude that the linking method is accurate enough to be used in large-scale educational research about national variation in district achievement, but that the small amount of linking error in the methods renders fine-grained distinctions or rankings among districts in different states invalid.

Education - CPI Affiliates

Carol Dweck Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology Stanford University
Eric Grodsky Associate Professor of Sociology University of Wisconsin-Madison
James J. Heckman Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics; Director, Center for the Economics of Human Development The University of Chicago
Jeanne Brooks-Gunn Virginia and Leonard Marx Professor of Child and Parent Development Education Teachers College, Columbia University
Karl Alexander Research Professor of Sociology Johns Hopkins University

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Education - Other Research

Title Author Media
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.

Judging Dream Keepers: Latino Assessments of Schools and Educators Angel Luis Molina Jr, Francisco I. Pedraza

Judging Dream Keepers: Latino Assessments of Schools and Educators

Author: Angel Luis Molina Jr, Francisco I. Pedraza
Publisher: Politics, Groups, and Identities
Date: 11/2015

There is consensus among scholars, policy experts, and ordinary Latinos that a Latino education crisis exists, and that education is the primary vehicle for achieving the American Dream. Yet we know surprisingly little about what predicts Latinos’ views of the bureaucrats and organizations charged with translating their educational hopes into reality. This study links disparate literatures to provide theory and evidence about how group features and elements of citizen-bureaucracy relations explain Latinos’ judgments of schools and their assessments of contact with school officials. Using the 2006 Latino National Survey, we find that nativity, acculturation, and discrimination undermine positive evaluations. Our results also indicate that some of these negative associations might be countered with Latino-salient outreach, including providing school-relevant information in Spanish language.

Too Many Children Left Behind: The U.S. Achievement Gap in Comparative Perspective Bruce Bradbury, Miles Corak, Jane Waldfogel, Elizabeth Washbrook

Too Many Children Left Behind: The U.S. Achievement Gap in Comparative Perspective

Author: Bruce Bradbury, Miles Corak, Jane Waldfogel, Elizabeth Washbrook
Publisher: Russell Sage Foundation
Date: 11/2015

The belief that with hard work and determination, all children have the opportunity to succeed in life is a cherished part of the American Dream. Yet, increased inequality in America has made that dream more difficult for many to obtain. In Too Many Children Left Behind, an international team of social scientists assesses how social mobility varies in the United States compared with Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Bruce Bradbury, Miles Corak, Jane Waldfogel, and Elizabeth Washbrook show that the academic achievement gap between disadvantaged American children and their more advantaged peers is far greater than in other wealthy countries, with serious consequences for their future life outcomes. With education the key to expanding opportunities for those born into low socioeconomic status families, Too Many Children Left Behind helps us better understand educational disparities and how to reduce them.

The Effects of School Spending on Educational and Economic Outcomes: Evidence from School Finance Reforms C. Kirabo Jackson, Rucker C. Johnson, Claudia Persico

The Effects of School Spending on Educational and Economic Outcomes: Evidence from School Finance Reforms

Author: C. Kirabo Jackson, Rucker C. Johnson, Claudia Persico
Publisher: The Quarterly Journal of Economics
Date: 10/2015

Since the Coleman report, many have questioned whether public school spending affects student outcomes. The school finance reforms that began in the early 1970s and accelerated in the 1980s caused dramatic changes to the structure of K–12 education spending in the US. To study the effect of these school-finance-reform-induced changes in public school spending on long-run adult outcomes, we link school spending and school finance reform data to detailed, nationally-representative data on children born between 1955 and 1985 and followed through 2011. We use the timing of the passage of court-mandated reforms, and their associated type of funding formula change, as exogenous shifters of school spending and we compare the adult outcomes of cohorts that were differentially exposed to school finance reforms, depending on place and year of birth. Event-study and instrumental variable models reveal that a 10 percent increase in per-pupil spending each year for all twelve years of public school leads to 0.31 more completed years of education, about 7 percent higher wages, and a 3.2 percentage-point reduction in the annual incidence of adult poverty; effects are much more pronounced for children from low-income families. Exogenous spending increases were associated with notable improvements in measured school inputs, including reductions in student-to-teacher ratios, increases in teacher salaries, and longer school years.

Early Childhood Disadvantage for Sons of Mexican Immigrants: Body Mass Index Across Ages 2-5 Elizabeth Lawrence, Stefanie Mollborn, Fernando Riosmena

Early Childhood Disadvantage for Sons of Mexican Immigrants: Body Mass Index Across Ages 2-5

Author: Elizabeth Lawrence, Stefanie Mollborn, Fernando Riosmena
Publisher: American Journal of Health Promotion
Date: 08/2015

Compared to their peers with non-Hispanic white mothers, children of Mexican-heritage mothers have higher average BMI and greater rates of obesity. The BMI of boys with Mexican-born mothers is higher relative to whites and children of U.S.-born Mexican mothers across early childhood, increasing sharply at about age 4.5 years. This divergence is driven by increases in the BMI of boys, as girls do not show the same growth. A number of measures, including descriptors of children's nutritional intake, lifestyle factors, and acculturation, do not explain the increased obesity rates among sons of Mexican mothers. Conclusion . Despite favorable perinatal health and weight, Mexican-American sons of foreign-born mothers show disadvantages in BMI that emerge close to the start of kindergarten.