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Jel Classification:I21 

Working Paper
The Impact of Chicago's Small High School Initiative

This project examines the effects of the introduction of new small high schools on student performance in the Chicago Public School (CPS) district. Specifically, we investigate whether students attending small high schools have better graduation/enrollment rates and achievement than similar students who attend regular CPS high schools. We show that students who choose to attend a small school are more disadvantaged on average, including having prior test scores that are about 0.2 standard deviations lower than their elementary school classmates. To address the selection problem, we use an ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2014-20

Working Paper
The Signaling, Screening, and Human Capital Effects of National Board Certification: Evidence from Chicago and Kentucky High Schools

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards recognizes teachers who meet performance standards for “accomplished” educators. States and districts provide support for teachers to obtain this certification, which is considered an honor in the field. Using high school data from Chicago and Kentucky, we examine whether participation in the time- and resource-intensive certification process improves teacher productivity and, ultimately, if recognized teachers are of higher quality than their non-certified peers. We find the certification process itself did not increase teacher ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP 2020-06

Working Paper
What Kind of Teachers Are Schools Looking For? Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment

Teacher quality is a pressing public policy concern, yet there is little evidence on what types of teachers schools actually prefer to hire. This paper reports the results of an experiment that involved sending schools fictitious resumes with randomly-chosen characteristics in an attempt to determine what characteristics schools value when hiring new teachers. The results of the study suggest that an applicant?s academic background has little impact on the likelihood of success at private and charter schools, although public schools respond more favorably to candidates from more selective ...
Working Papers (Old Series) , Paper 1436

Working Paper
The Income-Achievement Gap and Adult Outcome Inequality

This paper discusses various methods for assessing group differences in academic achievement using only the ordinal content of achievement test scores. Researchers and policymakers frequently draw conclusions about achievement differences between various populations using methods that rely on the cardinal comparability of test scores. This paper shows that such methods can lead to erroneous conclusions in an important application: measuring changes over time in the achievement gap between youth from high- and low-income households. Commonly-employed, cardinal methods suggest that this ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2015-41

Working Paper
Improving Child Welfare in Middle Income Countries: The Unintended Consequence of a Pro-Homemaker Divorce Law and Wait Time to Divorce

This study identifies the impact of access to and the speed of divorce on the welfare of children in a middle income largely Catholic country. Using difference-in-difference estimation techniques, I compare school enrollment for children of married and cohabiting parent households before and after the legalization of divorce. Implementing pro-homemaker divorce laws increased school enrollment anywhere from 3.4 to 5.5 percentage points, and the effect was particularly salient on secondary school students. I provide evidence that administrative processes influencing the speed of divorce affect ...
Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute Working Papers , Paper 27

Report
Determinants of college major choice: identification using an information experiment

This paper studies the determinants of college major choice using an experimentally generated panel of beliefs, obtained by providing students with information on the true population distribution of various major-specific characteristics. Students logically revise their beliefs in response to the information, and their subjective beliefs about future major choice are associated with beliefs about their own earnings and ability. We estimate a rich model of college major choice using the panel of beliefs data. While expected earnings and perceived ability are a significant determinant of major ...
Staff Reports , Paper 500

Report
Can increasing private school participation and monetary loss in a voucher program affect public school performance? Evidence from Milwaukee

The Milwaukee voucher program, as implemented in 1990, allowed only nonsectarian private schools to participate in the program. However, following a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling, the program was expanded to include religious private schools in 1998. This second phase of the voucher program led to more than a three-fold increase in the number of private schools and almost a four-fold increase in the number of choice students. Moreover, because of some changes in funding provisions, the revenue loss per student from vouchers increased in the second phase of the program. This paper analyzes, ...
Staff Reports , Paper 300

Report
Intended college attendance: evidence from an experiment on college returns and costs

Despite a robust college premium, college attendance rates in the United States have remained stagnant and exhibit a substantial socioeconomic gradient. We focus on information gaps?specifically, incomplete information about college benefits and costs?as a potential explanation for these patterns. For this purpose, we conduct an information experiment about college returns and costs embedded within a representative survey of U.S. household heads. We show that, at the baseline, perceptions of college costs and benefits are severely and systematically biased: 75 percent of our respondents ...
Staff Reports , Paper 739

Report
Precarious slopes? The Great Recession, federal stimulus, and New Jersey schools

While sparse literature exists investigating the impact of the Great Recession on various sectors of the economy, there is virtually no research that studies the effect of the Great Recession, or past recessions, on schools. This paper starts to fill the void. Studying school funding during the recession is of paramount importance because schools have a fundamental role in fostering human capital formation and economic growth. We exploit unique panel-data and trend-shift analysis to analyze how New Jersey school finances were affected during the Great Recession and the ARRA federal stimulus ...
Staff Reports , Paper 538

Working Paper
Stepping Stone and Option Value in a Model of Postsecondary Education

A stepping stone arises in risky environments with learning and transferable human capital. An example is the role played by academic two-year colleges in postsecondary education: Students, as they learn about the uncertain educational outcomes, can drop out or transfer up to harder and more rewarding schools, carrying a fraction of the accumulated human capital. A theory of education is built and contrasted empirically to find that i) option value explains a large part of returns to enrollment, ii) enrollment in academic two-year colleges is driven by the option to transfer up, and iii) the ...
Working Paper , Paper 14-3

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