Poorly Rated NYC Schools Attract Better Teachers

The idea of holding schools accountable for students’ performance has stood at the center of school-reform efforts in the United States for more than two decades. One of the many questions that have been raised is whether accountability efforts could backfire by driving good teachers out of poorly rated schools, creating a vicious cycle for principals attempting to turn their institutions around.

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Smart Teachers, Smart Kids—An International Study of Who Teaches the Best-Testing Kids

wages of teachers vs. other grads

While it’s now generally accepted that teacher quality is the most important element of a good school, research has failed to convincingly identify the characteristics of effective teachers. Because of this limitation, it’s also been difficult to explain the contribution of schools to the large variation in international test scores across countries. Eric A. Hanushek, Marc Piopiunik, and Simon Wiederhold looked at data from 31 mostly developed countries for some answers. They found that teachers’ cognitive skills can explain a significant portion of the international differences.
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Study: Program with Tablets and Texts Improves Family Reading Time

tablets

“Tablets and texts nudge parents to read to kids” describes a new JHR-published study aimed at finding ways to help families increase parents’ time reading to their children. The Parents and Children Together (PACT) experiment involved having parents set goals for reading time. Each family received a tablet preloaded with children’s books, and the parents received text prompts to follow up on reading goals. They also received weekly feedback on the actual amount of time they spent reading and earned digital rewards for meeting goals.

According to one of the researchers, Susan Mayer, a professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, the goal was to create a program using behavioral tools “to help parents overcome cognitive roadblocks to spending time reading to their children.”

The researchers report two key findings:
“Parents in the treatment group doubled the amount of time they spent reading to their child.”
and
“Parents in the treatment group read an average of almost five books per week, while those who were not, read an average of two or three.”

For the full study, see “Using Behavioral Insights to Increase Parental Engagement: The Parents and Children Together Intervention,” by Susan E. Mayer, Ariel Kalil, Philip Oreopoulos and Sebastian Gallegos.

Photo credit: Robert Kozloff, University of Chicago

Too many low-income college students don’t graduate, but a program that aims to address all challenges can help

One decade after high school completion, only 14 percent of low-income students in the United States have attained a bachelor’s degree, compared to 60 percent or more of their higher income peers. This stark difference is driven by gaps in both college access and college success, and it’s not explained away by differences in academic readiness for college. Recent research by Lindsay C. Page, Stacy S. Kehoe, Benjamin L. Castleman, and Gumilang Sahadewo examines how one “comprehensive support” program aims to make a difference.
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Higher quality interactions between caregivers and children in daycare improve child development

Although there is a rich body of evidence on the effects of preschool or daycare attendance, especially for the United States, substantially less is known about critical dimensions of the quality of these services, in particular for very young children. M. Caridad Araujo, Marta Dormal, and Norbert Schady (Inter-American Development Bank) developed a research project with the goal of understanding how the quality of caregiver–child interactions in daycare affects child development.
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For-Profit Colleges—Students Pay More, Get Less

Public institution certificate holders earn more.

As the U.S. Department of Education proposes rolling back the Gainful Employment rules regulating for-profit and vocational education programs, accurate estimates of the earnings outcomes and debt incurred by students in these programs are essential for judging the merits of various policy options. Researchers Stephanie Riegg Cellini and Nicholas Turner generated comprehensive new estimates of the labor market outcomes and debt incurred by students in vocational certificate programs in the for-profit sector.
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How Can We Extend the Working Lifetime? Compressing Time Spent in School Might Not Be the Answer

commuters

In response to demographic change—an aging population means fewer workers—policy makers in many industrialized countries are looking for ways to extend individuals’ working life. Shortening the time spent in school is one idea, but simple reductions result in students learning less. Germany tried a different reform: it kept the number of hours that children spend in school the same, but compressed it into one less year. Thus, students have the same amount of schooling, just over a shorter period of time. Jan Marcus (University of Hamburg and DIW Berlin) and Vaishali Zambre (DIW Berlin) evaluated this reform and examined how higher education enrollment was affected.
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Teacher Effects beyond the Test

Though many studies have shown that teachers have large effects on student achievement, we know little about the degree to which teachers affect a broader set of student outcomes. Using data from six large school districts, Matthew A. Kraft (Brown University) estimated how teachers affect a range of student skills and competencies beyond those measured by multiple-choice tests.
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When Families Want Sons, Do Daughters Get an Education?

Gender bias in families is evident in many regions, but the evidence to date does not allow us to fully understand its effects. Stacy H. Chen (National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, GRIPS), Yen-Chien Chen (Chi-Nan University, Taiwan), and Jin-Tan Liu (National Taiwan University and NBER) studied the educational outcomes of children in more than 965,000 families in Taiwan to better understand the experiences of daughters and sons.
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