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
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.

The Role of Mediators in the Development of Longitudinal Mathematics Achievement Associations Watts TW, Duncan GJ, Chen M, Claessens A, Davis-Kean PE, Duckworth K, Engel M, Siegler R, Susperreguy MI

The Role of Mediators in the Development of Longitudinal Mathematics Achievement Associations

Author: Watts TW, Duncan GJ, Chen M, Claessens A, Davis-Kean PE, Duckworth K, Engel M, Siegler R, Susperreguy MI
Publisher: Child Development
Date: 12/2015

Despite research demonstrating a strong association between early and later mathematics achievement, few studies have investigated mediators of this association. Using longitudinal data (n = 1,362), this study tested the extent to which mathematics self-concepts, school placement, executive functioning, and proficiency in fractions and division account for the association between mathematics achievement in first grade and at age 15. As hypothesized, a strong longitudinal association between first-grade and adolescent mathematics achievement was present (β = .36) even after controlling for a host of background characteristics, including cognitive skills and reading ability. The mediators accounted for 39% of this association, with mathematics self-concept, gifted and talented placement, and knowledge of fractions and division serving as significant mediators.

Improving the opportunities and outcomes of California's students learning English: Findings from school district-university collaborative partnerships Ilana M. Umansky, Sean F. Reardon, Kenji Hakuta, Karen D. Thompson, Peggy Estrada, Katherine Hayes, Hilda Maldonado, Susan Tandberg, Claude Goldenberg

Improving the opportunities and outcomes of California's students learning English: Findings from school district-university collaborative partnerships

Author: Ilana M. Umansky, Sean F. Reardon, Kenji Hakuta, Karen D. Thompson, Peggy Estrada, Katherine Hayes, Hilda Maldonado, Susan Tandberg, Claude Goldenberg
Publisher: Policy Analysis for California Education: Stanford, CA
Date: 10/2015

Recent policy changes in California’s education system have opened up a unique opportunity to improve educational opportunities for the state’s 1.4 million English learner students (ELs). The implementation of new state standards including new English Language Development standards will require major changes in teaching and learning for all students including ELs, while the Local Control Funding Formula gives districts that educate large numbers of ELs additional resources to improve the services that they provide. To take full advantage of these opportunities policymakers and educators should rely on the best available evidence to shape state and district policies and to inform classroom instructional practice for EL students. In this policy brief Ilana Umansky and her co-authors review research findings from three university school district research partnerships and present recommendations for changes in policy and practice to expand opportunities for EL students. They draw three main conclusions. First, California must improve the ways in which students who need language supports are classified and reclassified, in order to improve alignment across districts in the state, and alignment between classification and services. Second, state and local officials must become more systematic in how data on ELs are collected and used, by tracking students’ progress over longer time periods and by including all students who were ever ELs in accountability metrics. Finally, and most importantly, the state must improve ELs’ educational opportunities in school by expanding access to core content, bilingual instruction, and well-prepared teachers. Changes along these lines would not necessarily require large new investments, but they could yield substantial benefits for large numbers of California students.

education - CPI Affiliates

Shamus Khan's picture Shamus Khan Associate Professor of Sociology
Columbia University
Mario Luis Small's picture Mario Luis Small Grafstein Family Professor, Department of Sociology
Harvard University
Martin Benavides's picture Martin Benavides Senior Researcher
Pennsylvania State University
Terry M. Moe's picture Terry M. Moe William Bennett Monroe Professor of Political Science; Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution; Professor, by courtesy, of Education
Stanford University
Thomas J. Espenshade's picture Thomas J. Espenshade Professor of Sociology, Emeritus; Faculty Associate, Office of Population Research
Princeton University

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Education - Other Research

Title Author Media
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.

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.