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
Association, Service, Market: Higher Education in American Political Development Mitchell L. Stevens

Association, Service, Market: Higher Education in American Political Development

Author: Mitchell L. Stevens
Publisher: Annual Review of Sociology
Date: 07/2016

US higher education has enjoyed growing attention from social scientists and historians. We integrate recent scholarship by framing a political and historical sociology of the sector and we show how higher education has been central to projects of nation building and social provision throughout the course of American political development. US higher education has three institutional configurations: an associational one, defined by voluntary intramural organizations; a national service one, defined by massive government patronage; and a market one, defined by competition for students, patrons, and prestige. Continuity and change over time may be understood with the theoretical tools of historical sociology: path dependence, coalescence, and robust action. Our review substantiates assertions of deep turbulence in US higher education at present and calls for a closer integration of scholarship on state building and social stratification to inform the future.

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.

education - CPI Affiliates

Stefanie A. Deluca's picture Stefanie A. Deluca James Coleman Associate Professor of Sociology & Social Policy
Johns Hopkins University
Michael Olneck's picture Michael Olneck Professor Emeritus of Educational Policy Studies and Sociology
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Eamonn Callan's picture Eamonn Callan Pigott Family School of Education Professor, Emeritus
Stanford University
Michele Lamont Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies, Professor of Sociology and African and African American Studies
Harvard University
Elizabeth Frankenberg Research Professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy; Professor in the Department of Economics; Professor in the Department of Sociology
Duke University

Pages

Education - Other Research

Title Author Media
An Analysis of the Memphis Nurse-Family Partnership Program James J. Heckman, Margaret L. Holland, Kevin K. Makino, Rodrigo Pinto, Maria Rosales-Rueda

An Analysis of the Memphis Nurse-Family Partnership Program

Author: James J. Heckman, Margaret L. Holland, Kevin K. Makino, Rodrigo Pinto, Maria Rosales-Rueda
Publisher: NBER
Date: 07/2017

This paper evaluates a randomized controlled trial of the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program conducted in Memphis, TN in 1990. NFP offers home visits conducted by nurses for disadvantaged first-time mothers during pregnancy and early childhood. We test NFP treatment effects using permutation-based inference that accounts for the NFP randomization protocol. Our methodology is valid for small samples and corrects for multiple-hypothesis testing. We also analyze the underlying mechanisms generating these treatment effects. We decompose NFP treatment effects into components associated with the intervention-enhanced parenting and early childhood skills. The NFP improves home investments, parenting attitudes and mental health for mothers of infants at age 2. At age 6, the NFP boosts cognitive skills for both genders and socio-emotional skills for females. These treatment effects are explained by program-induced improvements in maternal traits and early-life family investments. At age 12, the treatment effects for males (but not for females) persist in the form of enhanced achievement test scores. Treatment effects are largely explained by enhanced cognitive skills at age 6. Our evidence of pronounced gender differences in response to early childhood interventions contributes to a growing literature on this topic.

Family Investments in Education during Periods of Economic Uncertainty: Evidence from the Great Recession Anna Lunn, Sabino Kornrich

Family Investments in Education during Periods of Economic Uncertainty: Evidence from the Great Recession

Author: Anna Lunn, Sabino Kornrich
Publisher: Sociological Perspectives
Date: 07/2017

At the beginning of the Great Recession, household spending on education across the income distribution was highly unequal. We examined how different income groups altered their spending on education for children under 18 during this economic crisis. As national and local economic conditions deteriorated during the recession, the difference in odds that a high-income household spent on education relative to a low-income family increased by 20 percent, and the difference in the amounts that high-income families spent on education relative to low-income families also increased by 20 percent. As state unemployment rates climbed and consumer confidence fell, high-income families’ educational spending increased relative to low-income families’ spending. Decreases in local housing prices were also associated with lower spending for low-income families. Given the importance of educational enrichment for children’s learning outcomes, increasing inequality in families’ educational investments during the Great Recession may contribute to future educational and social inequality.

And Their Children After Them? The Effect of College on Educational Reproduction Matthew Lawrence, Richard Breen

And Their Children After Them? The Effect of College on Educational Reproduction

Author: Matthew Lawrence, Richard Breen
Publisher: American Journal of Sociology
Date: 09/2016

Conventional analyses of social mobility and status reproduction retrospectively compare an outcome of individuals to a characteristic of their parents. By ignoring the mechanisms of family formation and excluding childless individuals, conventional approaches introduce selection bias into estimates of how characteristics in one generation affect an outcome in the next. The prospective approach introduced here integrates the effects of college on marriage and fertility into the reproduction of educational outcomes. Marginal structural models with inverse probability of treatment weighting are used with data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study to estimate the causal effect of pathways linking graduating from college with having a child who graduates from college. Results show that college increases male graduates’ probability of having a child who completes college; for female graduates there is no effect. The gender distinction is largely explained by the negative effects of college on women’s likelihood to marry and have children.

Behavioral and Statistical Models of Educational Inequality Anders Holm, Richard Breen

Behavioral and Statistical Models of Educational Inequality

Author: Anders Holm, Richard Breen
Publisher: Rationality and Society
Date: 06/2016

This article addresses the question of how students and their families make educational decisions. We describe three types of behavioral model that might underlie decision-making, and we show that they have consequences for what decisions are made. Our study, thus, has policy implications if we wish to encourage students and their families to make better educational choices. We also establish the conditions under which empirical analysis can distinguish between the three sorts of decision-making, and we illustrate our arguments using data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study.

Reducing Income Inequality in Educational Attainment: Experimental Evidence on the Impact of Financial Aid on College Completion Sara Goldrick-Rab, Robert Kelchen, Douglas N. Harris, James Benson

Reducing Income Inequality in Educational Attainment: Experimental Evidence on the Impact of Financial Aid on College Completion

Author: Sara Goldrick-Rab, Robert Kelchen, Douglas N. Harris, James Benson
Publisher: American Journal of Sociology
Date: 05/2016

Income inequality in educational attainment is a long-standing concern, and disparities in college completion have grown over time. Need-based financial aid is commonly used to promote equality in college outcomes, but its effectiveness has not been established, and some are calling it into question. A randomized experiment is used to estimate the impact of a private need-based grant program on college persistence and degree completion among students from low-income families attending 13 public universities across Wisconsin. Results indicate that offering students additional grant aid increases the odds of bachelor’s degree attainment over four years, helping to diminish income inequality in higher education.