Current Issue: Volume 12, Issue 4 - Fall 2017

Education Finance and Policy - Volume 12, Issue 4 - Fall 2017

Note from the Editor. Education Finance and Policy Fall 2017, Vol. 12, No. 4, pp. i.

It is with great pleasure we announce two new Associate Editors to the Education Finance and Policy editorial team. At the same time, we acknowledge the invaluable contributions of Eric Brunner and Susanna Loeb, who leave the editorial team after their years of exemplary service.

Dr. Randall Reback is the Tow Professor of Economics at Barnard College. He is a faculty fellow at Columbia University's Institute for Social Research and Policy, and is also affiliated with Teachers College's Economics of Education program, Barnard's urban studies program, and the Center for Economic Studies in Munich, Germany. He received his BA and MA from Stanford University, and his PhD from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Dr. Andrew McEachin is a policy researcher in the economics, statistics, and sociology department at the RAND Corporation. He received his BA in history from Cornell University, and his MA in economics and PhD in education policy from the University of Southern California.

Moving Matters: The Causal Effect of Moving Schools on Student Performance. Amy Ellen Schwartz, Leanna Stiefel, and Sarah A. Cordes. Education Finance and Policy Fall 2017, Vol. 12, No. 4, pp. 419–446.

Policy makers and analysts often view the reduction of student mobility across schools as a way to improve academic performance. Prior work indicates that children do worse in the year of a school move, but has been largely unsuccessful in isolating the causal effects of mobility. We use longitudinal data on students in New York City public elementary and middle schools to isolate the causal effects of school moves on student performance. We account for observed and time-invariant differences between movers and non-movers using rich data on student sociodemographic and education program characteristics and student fixed effects. To address the potential endogeneity of school moves arising from unobserved, time-varying factors, we use three sets of plausibly exogenous instruments for mobility: first-grade school grade span, grade span of zoned middle school, and building sale. We find that in the medium term, students making structural moves perform significantly worse in both English language arts (ELA) and math, whereas those making nonstructural moves experience a significant increase in ELA performance. In the short term, there is an additional negative effect for structural moves in ELA. These effects are meaningful in magnitude and results are robust to a variety of alternative specifications, instruments, and samples.

Racial Interaction Effects and Student Achievement. Jeffrey Penney. Education Finance and Policy Fall 2017, Vol. 12, No. 4, pp. 447–467.

Previous research has found that students who are of the same race as their teacher tend to perform better academically. This paper examines the possibility that both dosage and timing matter for these racial complementarities. Using a model of education production that explicitly accounts for past observable inputs, a conditional differences-in-differences estimation procedure is used to nonparametrically identify dynamic treatment effects of various sequences of interventions. Applying the methodology to Tennessee's Project STAR class size experiment, I find that racial complementarities may vary considerably according to the treatment path. Early exposures to same-race teachers yield benefits that persist in the medium run. This same-race matching effect may explain a nontrivial portion of the black–white test score gap.

The Impact of Summer Learning Loss on Measures of School Performance. Andrew McEachin, and Allison Atteberry. Education Finance and Policy Fall 2017, Vol. 12, No. 4, pp. 468–491.

State and federal accountability policies are predicated on the ability to estimate valid and reliable measures of school impacts on student learning. The typical spring-to-spring testing window potentially conflates the amount of learning that occurs during the school year with learning that occurs during the summer. We use a unique dataset to explore the potential for students’ summer learning to bias school-level value-added models used in accountability policies and research on school quality. The results of this paper raise important questions about the design of performance-based education policies, as well as schools’ role in the production of students’ achievement.

WWII GI Bill and its Effect on Low Education Levels: Did the World War II GI Bill have an Effect on High School Completion, Poverty, and Employment?. Megan D. Thomas. Education Finance and Policy Fall 2017, Vol. 12, No. 4, pp. 492–515.

Did the World War II (WWII) GI Bill increase the probability of completing high school and further affect the probability of poverty and employment for the cohorts for whom it benefited? This paper studies whether the GI Bill, one of the largest public financial aid policies for education, affected low education levels in addition to its documented effects on college education, and whether it increased economic well-being for its beneficiaries. I use the 1970 Census and the variation in WWII military participation rate across birth cohorts and states of birth for men. I find that the WWII GI Bill significantly increased the probability of completing high school by 13 percentage points and reduced the probability of being below the poverty line by 4 percentage points for black and white men. It also increased the probability of being employed by 3 percentage points and the number of weeks worked by two weeks.

Strategic Matching of Teachers and Schools with (and without) Accountability Pressure. Tom Ahn. Education Finance and Policy Fall 2017, Vol. 12, No. 4, pp. 516–535.

Accountability systems are designed to introduce market pressures to increase efficiency in education. One potential channel by which this can occur is to match with effective teachers in the transfer market. I use a smooth maximum score estimator model, North Carolina data, and the state's bonus system to analyze how teachers and schools change matching behavior in response to accountability pressure. Schools under a high degree of accountability pressure match with teachers who are better at raising test scores. Estimation with a control year sample (when pressure was absent) bolsters these findings. Accountability pressure seems to motivate schools to compete for effective teachers.

The Growing Segmentation of the Charter School Sector in North Carolina. Helen F. Ladd, Charles T. Clotfelter, and John B. Holbein. Education Finance and Policy Fall 2017, Vol. 12, No. 4, pp. 536–563

. A defining characteristic of charter schools is that they introduce a strong market element into public education. In this paper, we examine through the lens of a market model the evolution of the charter school sector in North Carolina between 1999 and 2012. We examine trends in the mix of students enrolled in charter schools, the racial imbalance of charter schools, patterns in student match quality by schools’ racial composition, and the distributions of test score performance gains compared to those in traditional public schools. In addition, we use student fixed effects models to examine plausibly causal measures of charter school effectiveness. Our findings indicate that charter schools in North Carolina are increasingly serving the interests of relatively able white students in racially imbalanced schools and that despite improvements in the charter school sector over time, charter schools are still no more effective on average than traditional public schools.

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