Political Mismanagement of Indian Primary Schools Yields Worse Test Scores

graph of 4th grade reading scores in public vs. private schools 2 years before through two years after an election, showing elections are followed by drop in scores

Teachers and their working patterns are known to be important determinants of learning outcomes of pupils, as well as key to understanding the large gaps in skills across different school systems. Sonja Fagernäs and Panu Pelkonen examined how the management of teachers in Indian primary schools, when intermingled with political processes, can disrupt teachers’ work and eventually harm learning.
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Female Middle School Math Teachers Mean Better Grades for Girls Now, More STEM Participation Later

girl studying

Studies have found that female students perform better when taught by female teachers. But, there is little evidence on whether these effects persistent beyond that school year. We also don’t understand exactly why female student–teacher gender matching improves performance. Jaegeum Lim (Korean National Assembly) and Jonathan Meer (Texas A&M) asked these questions in the context of longer-run data on students from 74 middle schools in Seoul, South Korea.
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Are Professors Worth It? Who Should Teach College Students in Their Small Group Classes?

discussion

Many universities offer tutorials, also called teaching-assistant sessions, discussion sections, or lab sessions, depending on where you live. These small group instructions complement course lectures. Tutorials are often taught by instructors of different academic ranks, ranging from undergraduate students to full professors. Higher ranked instructors are more qualified and more expensive, so Jan Feld, Nicolás Salamanca, and Ulf Zölitz wanted to answer the obvious question: Are higher ranked instructors worth the extra investment by their institutions?
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State Affirmative Action Bans in Higher Ed—What We Know

map of state bans

New from Brookings, “Why might states ban affirmative action?” by Dominique J. Baker, Assistant Professor of Education Policy at Southern Methodist University, explores the dynamics of state affirmative action bans in higher education. In a recent study, Baker compared the demographics of states with bans with those with no bans and found that an increase in the number of white students attending state flagship institutions is associated with a decrease in the odds of adopting a state ban. Also, when a neighboring state has a ban, a state is less likely to adopt a ban.
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Does Going to School with Immigrant Children Impair Learning?

elementary school girls

As immigration continues to dominate political debates, a growing number of policymakers and citizens are concerned that the presence of immigrant children in schools may harm native children’s learning outcomes. Existing evidence on this question, however, is quite mixed. Laurent Bossavie (World Bank) aims to contribute to the discussion with a new study on learning outcomes of children who share schools with immigrants.
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Text-Messaging Parents Can Help Kids Learn to Read—Especially If the Curriculum Is Personalized and Differentiated

Reading growth with text-messaging

Educational interventions based on behavioral economics principles have shown promise for combatting some of the persistent disparities in education outcomes. Researchers have studied text-messaging “nudges” and found them to be successful at all levels of education, from pre-K to the transition to college.

With this in mind, Christopher Doss, Erin M. Fahle, Susanna Loeb, and Benjamin York dug deeper to look at how personalizing text messages to the recipient could make a difference. Their work aims to identify the importance of personalization and differentiation within a text-messaging program designed to help parents of kindergarteners support the literacy development of their children at home.
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Text-Messaging Program READY4K! Supports Early Literacy Development in the Home

Sample Ready4K texts

Racial and socioeconomic gaps in academic achievement begin early in life, with large gaps in skills present by the time children enter kindergarten. One factor contributing to this educational inequality is the great variation in home learning experiences.

Researchers and practitioners have taken a variety of approaches to help parents support the literacy development of their children. Examples include interventions during doctors’ visits or hosting workshops for parents at schools. Unfortunately, these traditional approaches are hampered by their relative infrequency and/or substantial demands on parents’ time.

Benjamin York, Susanna Loeb, and Christopher Doss wondered whether something as common as a text message could improve the home learning experience. “In this study, we field a randomized control trial to test the efficacy of a text messaging intervention that leverages lessons from behavioral economics on overcoming barriers to adult behavior change.”
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Having More Siblings Reduces Education Attainment, but Not by Much

Two trends are often observed as a country develops: a decline in family size and a rise in education attainment. Are they related? In particular, could the fall in family size be one reason for the increase in education levels? Hui Ren Tan (Boston University) considered this question within the context of the 19th and early 20th century United States.
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Unintended Consequences—How Targeting Schools for Special Benefits in France Can Do More Harm Than Good

student reading

Compensatory education policies—policies aimed at offsetting educational inequalities between socially and academically disadvantaged children and more advantaged students—are widely used and represent a significant part of public education spending in many countries. In France, they correspond to about ten percent of the annual spending per pupil. They provide underprivileged schools with additional resources to compensate for social and academic disadvantages. In a new JHR paper, Laurent Davezies (CREST) and Manon Garrouste (University of Lille) propose some evidence to explain why these programs are often not working as intended.
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Poorly Rated NYC Schools Attract Better Teachers

teacher

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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