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
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.

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.

education - CPI Affiliates

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
Shamus Khan's picture Shamus Khan Associate Professor of Sociology
Columbia University
Stefanie A. Deluca's picture Stefanie A. Deluca James Coleman Associate Professor of Sociology & Social Policy
Johns Hopkins University

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Education - Other Research

Title Author Media
‘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.

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.