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
Mobility Report Cards: The Role of Colleges in Intergenerational Mobility Raj Chetty, John N. Friedman, Emmanuel Saez, Nicholas Turner, Danny Yagan

Mobility Report Cards: The Role of Colleges in Intergenerational Mobility

Author: Raj Chetty, John N. Friedman, Emmanuel Saez, Nicholas Turner, Danny Yagan
Publisher: NBER
Date: 07/2017

We characterize intergenerational income mobility at each college in the United States using data for over 30 million college students from 1999-2013. We document four results. First, access to colleges varies greatly by parent income. For example, children whose parents are in the top 1% of the income distribution are 77 times more likely to attend an Ivy League college than those whose parents are in the bottom income quintile. Second, children from low- and high-income families have similar earnings outcomes conditional on the college they attend, indicating that low-income students are not mismatched at selective colleges. Third, rates of upward mobility – the fraction of students who come from families in the bottom income quintile and reach the top quintile – differ substantially across colleges because low-income access varies significantly across colleges with similar earnings outcomes. Rates of bottom-to-top quintile mobility are highest at certain mid-tier public universities, such as the City University of New York and California State colleges. Rates of upper-tail (bottom quintile to top 1%) mobility are highest at elite colleges, such as Ivy League universities. Fourth, the fraction of students from low-income families did not change substantially between 2000-2011 at elite private colleges, but fell sharply at colleges with the highest rates of bottom-to-top-quintile mobility. Although our descriptive analysis does not identify colleges' causal effects on students' outcomes, the publicly available statistics constructed here highlight colleges that deserve further study as potential engines of upward mobility.

State of the Union 2017: Education Sean F. Reardon, Erin M. Fahle

State of the Union 2017: Education

Author: Sean F. Reardon, Erin M. Fahle
Publisher: Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality
Date: 06/2017

Between 1990 and 2015, average academic performance improved for students of all racial and ethnic groups, but grew fastest among black and Hispanic students. As a result, white-black and white-Hispanic achievement gaps have declined by 15 to 25 percent. But achievement gaps remain large: Hispanic students lag almost two grade levels, and black students lag roughly two to two-and-a-half grade levels behind whites. Two nonschooling factors—persistent racial and ethnic disparities in family resources and segregation patterns— are fundamental determinants of unequal educational opportunity for minority students. 

Mobility Report Cards: The Role of Colleges in Intergenerational Mobility Raj Chetty, John N. Friedman, Emmanuel Saez, Nicholas Turner, Danny Yagan

Mobility Report Cards: The Role of Colleges in Intergenerational Mobility

Author: Raj Chetty, John N. Friedman, Emmanuel Saez, Nicholas Turner, Danny Yagan
Publisher:
Date: 01/2017

We characterize rates of intergenerational income mobility at each college in the United States using administrative data for over 30 million college students from 1999-2013. We document four results. First, access to colleges varies greatly by parent income. For example, children whose parents are in the top 1% of the income distribution are 77 times more likely to attend an Ivy League college than those whose parents are in the bottom income quintile. Second, children from low and high-income families have very similar earnings outcomes conditional on the college they attend, indicating that there is little mismatch of low socioeconomic status students to selective colleges. Third, upward mobility rates – measured, for instance, by the fraction of students who come from families in the bottom income quintile and reach the top quintile – vary substantially across colleges. Much of this variation is driven by differences in the fraction of students from low-income families across colleges whose students have similar earnings outcomes. Mid-tier public universities such as the City University of New York and California State colleges tend to have the highest rates of bottom-to-top quintile mobility. Elite private colleges, such as Ivy League universities, have the highest rates of upper-tail (e.g., bottom quintile to top 1%) mobility. Finally, between the 1980 and 1991 birth cohorts, the fraction of students from bottom-quintile families fell sharply at colleges with high rates of bottom-to-topquintile mobility, and did not change substantially at elite private institutions. Although our descriptive analysis does not identify colleges’ causal effects on students’ outcomes, the publicly available statistics constructed here highlight colleges that deserve further study as potential engines of upward mobility.

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.

education - CPI Affiliates

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
Shamus Khan's picture Shamus Khan Professor of Sociology
Columbia University

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Education - Other Research

Title Author Media
New Evidence of Generational Progress for Mexican Americans Brian Duncan, Jeffrey Grogger, Ana Sofia Leon, Stephen J. Trejo

New Evidence of Generational Progress for Mexican Americans

Author: Brian Duncan, Jeffrey Grogger, Ana Sofia Leon, Stephen J. Trejo
Publisher: NBER
Date: 11/2017

U.S.-born Mexican Americans suffer a large schooling deficit relative to other Americans, and standard data sources suggest that this deficit does not shrink between the 2nd and later generations. Standard data sources lack information on grandparents’ countries of birth, however, which creates potentially serious issues for tracking the progress of later-generation Mexican Americans. Exploiting unique NLSY97 data that address these measurement issues, we find substantial educational progress between the 2nd and 3rd generations for a recent cohort of Mexican Americans. Such progress is obscured when we instead mimic the limitations inherent in standard data sources.

The Effect of Education and School Quality on Female Crime Javier Cano-Urbina, Lance Lochner

The Effect of Education and School Quality on Female Crime

Author: Javier Cano-Urbina, Lance Lochner
Publisher: NBER
Date: 11/2017

This paper estimates the effects of educational attainment and school quality on crime among American women. Using changes in compulsory schooling laws as instruments, we estimate significant effects of schooling attainment on the probability of incarceration using Census data from 1960-1980. Using data from the 1960-90 Uniform Crime Reports, we also estimate that increases in average schooling levels reduce arrest rates for violent and property crime but not white collar crime. Our results suggest small and mixed direct effects of school quality (as measured by pupil-teacher ratios, term length, and teacher salaries) on incarceration and arrests. Finally, we show that the effects of education on crime for women are unlikely to be due to changes in labor market opportunities and may be more related to changes in marital opportunities and family formation.

The Non-Market Benefits of Education and Ability James J. Heckman, John Eric Humphries, Gregory Veramendi

The Non-Market Benefits of Education and Ability

Author: James J. Heckman, John Eric Humphries, Gregory Veramendi
Publisher: NBER
Date: 10/2017

This paper analyzes the non-market benefits of education and ability. Using a dynamic model of educational choice we estimate returns to education that account for selection bias and sorting on gains. We investigate a range of non-market outcomes including incarceration, mental health, voter participation, trust, and participation in welfare. We find distinct patterns of returns that depend on the levels of schooling and ability. Unlike the monetary benefits of education, the benefits to education for many non-market outcomes are greater for low-ability persons. College graduation decreases welfare use, lowers depression, and raises self-esteem more for less-able individuals.

Virtual Classrooms: How Online College Courses Affect Student Success Eric P. Bettinger, Lindsay Fox, Susanna Loeb, Eric S. Taylor

Virtual Classrooms: How Online College Courses Affect Student Success

Author: Eric P. Bettinger, Lindsay Fox, Susanna Loeb, Eric S. Taylor
Publisher: American Economic Review
Date: 09/2017

Online college courses are a rapidly expanding feature of higher education, yet little research identifies their effects relative to traditional in-person classes. Using an instrumental variables approach, we find that taking a course online, instead of in-person, reduces student success and progress in college. Grades are lower both for the course taken online and in future courses. Students are less likely to remain enrolled at the university. These estimates are local average treatment effects for students with access to both online and in-person options; for other students, online classes may be the only option for accessing college-level courses.

High School Choices and the Gender Gap in STEM David Card, A. Abigail Payne

High School Choices and the Gender Gap in STEM

Author: David Card, A. Abigail Payne
Publisher: NBER
Date: 09/2017

Women who graduate from university are less likely than men to specialize in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM). We use detailed administrative data for a recent cohort of high school students in Ontario, Canada, combined with data from the province's university admission system to analyze the dynamic process leading to this gap. We show that entry to STEM programs is mediated through an index of STEM readiness based on end-of-high-school courses in math and science. Most of the gender gap in STEM entry can be traced to differences in the rate of STEM readiness; less than a fifth is due to differences in the choice of major conditional on readiness. We then use high school course data to decompose the gap in STEM readiness among university entrants into two channels: one reflecting the gender gap in the fraction of high school students with the necessary prerequisites to enter STEM, and a second arising from differences in the fractions of females and males who enter university. The gender gap in the fraction of students with STEM prerequisites is small. The main factor is the lower university entry rate by men – a difference that is due to the lower fraction of non-science oriented males who complete enough advanced level courses to qualify for university entry. We conclude that differences in course-taking patterns and preferences for STEM conditional on readiness contribute to male-female differences in the rate of entering STEM, but that the main source of the gap is the lower overall rate of university attendance by men.