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
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.

The Determinants and Welfare Implications of US Workers’ Diverging Location Choices by Skill: 1980-2000 Rebecca Diamond

The Determinants and Welfare Implications of US Workers’ Diverging Location Choices by Skill: 1980-2000

Author: Rebecca Diamond
Publisher: American Economic Review
Date: 03/2016

From 1980 to 2000, the rise in the US college/high school graduate wage gap coincided with increased geographic sorting as college graduates concentrated in high wage, high rent cities. This paper estimates a structural spatial equilibrium model to determine causes and welfare consequences of this increased skill sorting. While local labor demand changes fundamentally caused the increased skill sorting, it was further fueled by endogenous increases in amenities within higher skill cities. Changes in cities' wages, rents, and endogenous amenities increased inequality between high school and college graduates by more than suggested by the increase in the college wage gap alone.

State of the Union - The Poverty and Inequality Report 2016: Education Anna K. Chmielewski, Sean F. Reardon

State of the Union - The Poverty and Inequality Report 2016: Education

Author: Anna K. Chmielewski, Sean F. Reardon
Publisher: Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality
Date: 02/2016

The United States is an outlier on many measures of inequality. When compared to other well-off countries, it has unusually high levels of income inequality, unusually high levels of wealth inequality, and unusually high levels of poverty. The purpose of this article is, in part, to ask whether the “income achievement gap”—the test score gap between children from high- and lowincome families—is also unusually high in the U.S. This gap is important because it reflects (a) the extent to which students experience different socioeconomic conditions in their early childhood and different schooling conditions once they reach school age, and (b) the extent to which these socioeconomic and schooling context differences lead to different educational outcomes (test scores, in this case). It may accordingly be understood as an early (albeit obviously imperfect) measure of the extent to which opportunities are unequal. Although a main purpose of this article is simply to establish how the U.S. stacks up against its peer countries on this key measure of unequal opportunity, our follow-up objective is to cast some light on the sources of international differences in this measure. We examine, in particular, whether income inequality is an important source of the achievement gap. The evidence from the U.S. is at least suggestive of an “income inequality” effect: In the 1980s and 1990s, as income inequality in the U.S. grew sharply, so too did the academic achievement gap by family income. That family income and family socioeconomic status (SES) are related to children’s academic achievement is not surprising; that this relationship grew so rapidly in the U.S. in the last several decades, however, is rather surprising. The U.S. trends suggest that some of this growth may have been the result of rising income inequality.

State of the Union 2016: Education Anna K. Chmielewski, Sean F. Reardon

State of the Union 2016: Education

Author: Anna K. Chmielewski, Sean F. Reardon
Publisher:
Date: 02/2016

The income achievement gap in the United States is quite large relative to the 19 OECD countries examined here. Countries with higher levels of poverty, inequality, and economic segregation (among schools) tend to have larger income achievement gaps.

Educational Homogamy in Two Gilded Ages: Evidence from Intergenerational Social Mobility Data. Robert Mare

Educational Homogamy in Two Gilded Ages: Evidence from Intergenerational Social Mobility Data.

Author: Robert Mare
Publisher: Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Date: 01/2016

Patterns of intermarriage between persons who have varying levels of educational attainment are indicators of socioeconomic closure and affect the family backgrounds of children. This article documents trends in educational assortative mating throughout the twentieth century in the United States, using socioeconomic data on adults observed in several large cross section surveys collected between 1972 and 2010 and on their parents who married a generation earlier. Spousal resemblance on educational attainment was very high in the early twentieth century, declined to an all-time low for young couples in the early 1950s, and has increased steadily since then. These trends broadly parallel the compression and expansion of socioeconomic inequality in the United States over the twentieth century. Additionally, educationally similar parents are more likely to have offspring who themselves marry within their own educational level. If homogamy in the parent generation leads to homogamy in the offspring generation, this may reinforce the secular trend toward increased homogamy.

education - CPI Affiliates

Karl Alexander's picture Karl Alexander John Dewey Professor Emeritus Sociology; Academy Professor in The Academy at JHU/KSAS
Johns Hopkins University
Kendra Bischoff's picture Kendra Bischoff Assistant Professor of Sociology
Cornell University
Mitchell Stevens's picture Mitchell Stevens Poverty and Technology Lab Leader; Director of Digital Research and Planning; Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior in the Graduate School of Business (by courtesy); Associate Professor of Sociology (by courtesy)
Stanford University
Richard Arum's picture Richard Arum Dean, School of Education; Senior Academic Advisor, Education Research Program
University of California, Irvine
Rucker C. Johnson's picture Rucker C. Johnson Associate Professor at Goldman School of Public Policy
University of California, Berkeley

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Education - Other Research

Title Author Media
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.

What Money Doesn't Buy: Class Resources and Children's Participation in Organized Extracurricular Activities Elliot B. Weininger, Annette Lareau, Dalton Conley

What Money Doesn't Buy: Class Resources and Children's Participation in Organized Extracurricular Activities

Author: Elliot B. Weininger, Annette Lareau, Dalton Conley
Publisher: Social Forces
Date: 05/2015

Recent research suggests that participation in organized extracurricular activities by children and adolescents can have educational and occupational payoffs. This research also establishes that participation is strongly associated with social class. However, debate has ensued—primarily among qualitative researchers—over whether the association between class and activities stems exclusively from inequalities in objective resources and constraints or whether differing cultural orientations have a role. We address this debate using a nationally representative sample of children's time diaries, merged with extensive information on their families, to model participation in, and expenditures on, organized activities. While we cannot directly observe cultural orientations, we account for a substantially wider array of resources and constraints than previous studies. We find that, above and beyond these factors, maternal education has a consistently large effect on the outcomes we study. We discuss the plausibility of a cultural interpretation of this result, as well as alternative interpretations.

Dynamics of Urban Neighborhood Reciprocity: Latino Peer Ties, Violence and the Navigation of School Failure and Success Maria G. Rendon

Dynamics of Urban Neighborhood Reciprocity: Latino Peer Ties, Violence and the Navigation of School Failure and Success

Author: Maria G. Rendon
Publisher: Routledge
Date: 04/2015
Is It Worth It? Postsecondary Education and Labor Market Outcomes for the Disadvantaged Ben Backes, Harry J Holzer, Erin Dunlop Velez

Is It Worth It? Postsecondary Education and Labor Market Outcomes for the Disadvantaged

Author: Ben Backes, Harry J Holzer, Erin Dunlop Velez
Publisher: IZA Journal of Labor Policy
Date: 01/2015

In this paper we examine a range of postsecondary education and labor market outcomes, with a particular focus on minorities and/or disadvantaged workers. We use administrative data from the state of Florida, where postsecondary student records have been linked to UI earnings data and also to secondary education records. Our main findings can be summarized as follows: 1) Gaps in secondary school achievement can account for a large portion of the variation in postsecondary attainment and labor market outcomes between the disadvantaged and other students, but meaningful gaps also exist within achievement groups, and 2) Earnings of the disadvantaged are hurt by low completion rates in postsecondary programs, poor performance during college, and not choosing high-earning fields. In particular, significant labor market premia can be earned in a variety of more technical certificate and Associate (AA) programs, even for those with weak earlier academic performance, but instead many disadvantaged (and other) students choose general humanities programs at the AA (and even the BA level) with low completion rates and low compensation afterwards. A range of policies and practices might be used to improve student choices as well as their completion rates and earnings.

College course scarcity and time to degree Michal Kurlaendera, Jacob Jackson, Jessica S. Howell, Eric Grodsky

College course scarcity and time to degree

Author: Michal Kurlaendera, Jacob Jackson, Jessica S. Howell, Eric Grodsky
Publisher: Economics of Education Review
Date: 08/2014

College students are taking longer to earn baccalaureate degrees now than ever before, but little is known about institutional factors that may contribute to this trend. In this paper we investigate an important institutional constraint—course scarcity—that we hypothesize may be associated with increased time to degree. We employ a unique administrative dataset from a large, moderately selective, public institution and use an instrumental variables approach, identifying off the random registration times assigned to students. Results suggest that course scarcity does not delay students’ graduation. We explore alternative explanations for our findings and discuss a variety of other factors correlated with time to baccalaureate completion.