The Impacts of Schools on Racial Attitudes, Prosocial Behaviors, and Sociopolitical Preferences
The stability of families' revealed preferences for schools.
Draft available upon request.
I investigate longitudinal preferences for schools revealed by families’ applications to middle and high schools within a large urban school district’s universal enrollment system. I find that preferences for schools’ racial/ethnic composition are more stable than preferences for quality and proximity to home, even after concurrently controlling for all characteristics. White and Hispanic families’ preferences for composition are more durable than those of Black families, though stability overall attenuates when focusing on subgroups. Because preferences are not rigid over time, research and policy might continue exploring whether families can be guided towards options that improve academic outcomes and/or address segregation.
The impact of school desegregation on White individuals’ racial attitudes and politics in adulthood.
In this paper I study how school desegregation by race following Brown v. Board of Education affected White individuals’ racial attitudes and politics in adulthood. I use geocoded nationwide data from the General Social Survey and differences-in-differences to identify causal impacts. Integration significantly reduced White individuals’ political conservatism as adults in the U.S. South but not elsewhere. I observe similar geographic impact heterogeneity for individuals’ attitudes towards Blacks and policies promoting racial equity, but positive effects emerge less consistently across specifications. Results suggest that this heterogeneity may depend on the effectiveness of integration policies. In the south, Black-White exposure was greater following desegregation, and White disenrollment was lower. My study provides the first causal evidence on how different theories concerning intergroup contact and racial attitudes (i.e., the contact and racial threat hypotheses) may have applied to school contexts following historic court mandates to desegregate.
The impact of past school characteristics on families’ future revealed preferences for schools.
Draft available upon request.
In this paper I study how the characteristics of families’ past schools impact their future school preferences, revealed by enrollment applications in a large urban school district’s universal enrollment system. As theory predicts, I find that the attributes of applicants’ middle schools significantly correlate with their high school choices. However, when using experimental variation generated by the random assignment of students to oversubscribed options, I find that past schools’ proximity to home, but not racial/ethnic composition or quality, causally affects future preferences for the same characteristics. School choice policies can theoretically match families to schools of higher quality or that help integrate students by race and/or income. But my findings further stress the need to understand causal sources of school preferences for quality and diversity and how families might be encouraged to select beneficial options.
The Importance of Racial Atittudes, Prosocial Behaviors, and Sociopolitical Preferences
Desegregated but still separated? The impact of school integration on student suspensions and special education classification.
In this paper I study the impact of court-mandated school desegregation by race on student suspensions and special education classification. Simple descriptive statistics using student enrollment and outcome data collected from the largest school districts across the country in the 1970s and 1980s show that Black-White school integration was increasing for districts under court order, but not for a set of comparison districts. Similarly, Black student suspension rates were increasing at faster rates in integrating districts relative to comparison districts, and their classification rates as having an intellectual disability were decreasing at slower rates. Differences-in-differences and event study models confirm these patterns I observe in the raw data: after integration, school districts experienced statistically and practically significant reductions in racial isolation across schools and growth in racial disparities in discipline and special education classification. The impacts of integration are immediate, sustained, and robust for student suspensions in particular. My results thus provide causal evidence confirming prior descriptive and theoretical work suggesting that the racial composition of schools may influence measures of categorical inequality by race.
The impact of political party control on state finance and outcomes: Regression discontinuity evidence from close elections. (with Lena Shi)
Draft available upon request.
In this paper, we investigate the effect of political party control over U.S. state government on ten major areas of state and local government expenditures. Using a regression discontinuity design based on close state elections held between 1977 and 2016, we find very few consistently significant spending differences between legislatures under marginal Democratic versus Republican control. The precision of these estimates allows us to rule out substantial partisan gaps. The one exception is K-12 education. When Democrats control state houses, governments spend significantly more on K-12 education. This difference is primarily driven by increases in local spending, and becomes marginally larger with increased government unification, as we demonstrate using a new regression discontinuity approach that accounts for Democratic control of both the state house and governorship. Democrats’ increased spending is associated with downstream decreases in K-12 teacher-student ratios, but student attendance rates do not shift. Altogether, our results suggest that, overall, political party control may not be a key driver of state-level variation in government expenditures and outcomes.
Bias in the air: A nationwide exploration of teachers' implicit racial attitudes, aggregate bias, and student outcomes. (with Dave Quinn, Tasminda Dhaliwal, and Virginia Lovison)
Theory suggests that teachers’ implicit racial attitudes affect their students, but large-scale evidence on U.S. teachers’ implicit biases and their correlates is lacking. Using nationwide data from Project Implicit, we found that teachers’ implicit White/Black biases (as measured by the implicit association test) vary by teacher gender and race. Teachers’ adjusted bias levels are lower in counties with larger shares of Black students. In the aggregate, counties in which teachers hold higher levels of implicit and explicit racial bias have larger adjusted White/Black test score inequalities and White/Black suspension disparities.
Evaluating Educational Agencies' Programs and Policies through Research-Practitioner Partnerships
The effect of English learner reclassification on student achievement and noncognitive outcomes.
Abstract: English learners’ (ELs) day-to-day experiences in school change when reclassified as fully English proficient. Prior research, however, is mixed on how reclassification influences outcomes. Many studies also do not or cannot explore key long-term outcomes or identify impacts over time. In this study I leverage longitudinal student data in a regression discontinuity and find that reclassification after third grade affects ELs’ achievement in the short and longer term. Reclassified ELs score considerably higher on mathematics and reading standardized tests in fifth and eighth grade. I also provide the first causal evidence for the impact of reclassification on several theoretically affected noncognitive outcomes. I find that reclassification substantially lowers the level of challenge for work assigned by teachers and increases ELs’ out-of-school engagement in the short term. However, effects on noncognitive outcomes attenuate or reverse direction in the longer term. Together, these findings highlight the need for evaluations to consider multiple measures and to identify impacts over time when possible, especially when data on long-term outcomes such as high school graduation, college persistence, or labor market success are unavailable.
School district reform in Newark: Within- and Between-school changes in achievement growth. (with Tom Kane, Whitney Kozakowski, Beth Schueler, and Doug Staiger)
In the 2011–12 school year, the Newark Public School district (NPS) launched a set of educational reforms supported by a gift from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan. Using data from 2008–09 through 2015–16, the authors evaluate the change in Newark students’ achievement growth relative to similar students and schools elsewhere in New Jersey. They measure achievement growth using a “value-added” model, controlling for prior achievement, demographics, and peer characteristics. By the fifth year of reform, Newark saw statistically significant gains in English language arts (ELA) achievement growth and no significant change in math achievement growth. Perhaps because of the disruptive nature of the reforms, growth declined initially before rebounding in later years. Much of the improvement was attributed to shifting enrollment from lower- to higher-growth district and charter schools.
Teacher and Teaching Quality
An experimental evaluation of three teacher quality measures: Value-added, classroom observations, and student surveys. (with Andrew Bacher-Hicks, Tom Kane, and Doug Staiger)
Nearly every state evaluates teacher performance using multiple measures, but evidence has largely shown that only one such measure—teachers’ effects on student achievement (i.e., value-added)—captures teachers’ causal effects. We conducted a random assignment experiment in 66 fourth- and fifth-grade mathematics classrooms to evaluate the predictive validity of three measures of teacher performance: value-added, classroom observations, and student surveys. Combining our results with those from two previous random assignment experiments, we provide additional experimental evidence that value-added measures are unbiased predictors of teacher performance. Though results for the other two measures are less precise, we find that classroom observation scores are predictive of teachers’ performance after random assignment while student surveys are not. These results thus lend support to teacher evaluation systems that use value-added and classroom observations, but suggest practitioners should proceed with caution when considering student survey measures for teacher evaluation.
Connections between teachers' knowledge of students, instruction, and achievement outcomes. (with Heather Hill)
Published manuscript at the American Educational Research Journal.
Mathematical content knowledge and knowledge for teaching: Exploring their distinguishability and contribution to student learning. (with Charalambos Charalambous and Heather Hill)
Published manuscript at the Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education.
Relationships between observations of elementary mathematics instruction and student achievement. (with Katie Lynch and David Blazar)
Published manuscript at the American Journal of Education.
Teacher characteristics and student learning in mathematics: A comprehensive assessment. (with Heather Hill and Charalambos Charalambous)
Published manuscript at Educational Policy.
Teacher mathematical knowledge, instructional quality, and student outcomes: A multilevel quantile mediation analysis. (with Ben Kelcey, Heather Hill, and Dan McGinn)
Published manuscript at School Effectiveness and School Improvement.