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Recent works by C. Kirabo Jackson

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  • 01/01/18--16:00: Data Lessons AEJ.zip
  • This contains instruction on how to obtain the data used in "Can Online Off-The-Shelf Lessons Improve Student Outcomes? Evidence from A Field Experiment." this folder also includes the code use for the main annalists.

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    The emergence of large longitudinal data sets linking students to teachers has led to rapid growth in the study of teacher effects on student outcomes by economists over the past decade. One large literature has documented wide variation in teacher effectiveness that is not well explained by observable student or teacher characteristics. A second literature has investigated how educational outcomes might be improved by leveraging teacher effectiveness through processes of recruitment, assignment, compensation, evaluation, promotion, and retention. These two lines of inquiry are closely tied; the first tells us about the importance of individual teachers, and the second tells us how this information can be used in policy and practice. We review the most recent findings in economics on the importance of teachers and on teacher-related policies aimed at improving educational production.


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    We explore whether early childhood human-capital investments are complementary to those made later in life. Using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, we compare the adult outcomes of cohorts who were differentially exposed to policy-induced changes in pre-school (Head Start) spending and school-finance-reform-induced changes in public school spending during childhood, depending on place and year of birth. Difference-in-difference instrumental variables and sibling-difference estimates indicate that, for poor children, increases in Head Start spending and increases in public K12 spending each individually increased educational attainment and earnings, and reduced the likelihood of both poverty and incarceration in adulthood. The benefits of Head Start spending were larger when followed by access to better-funded public K12 schools, and the increases in K12 spending were more efficacious for poor children who were exposed to higher levels of Head Start spending during their preschool years. The findings suggest that early investments in the skills of disadvantaged children that are followed by sustained educational investments over time can effectively break the cycle of poverty. 

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    Recent studies document that, in many cases, the schools that parents prefer over others do not improve student test scores. Two explanations are (a) parents cannot discern schools’ causal impacts, and/or (b) parents value schools that improve outcomes not well measured by test scores. To shed light on this, we employ administrative and survey data from Barbados. Using discrete choice models, we document that most parents have strong preferences for the same schools. Using a regression-discontinuity design, we estimate the causal impact of attending a preferred school on a broad array of outcomes. As found in other settings, preferred schools have better peers, but do not improve short-run test scores. However, for females, these schools confer long-run benefits including reduced teen motherhood, more educational attainment, increased employment, higher earnings, and improved health. In contrast, for males, the effects are mixed. The pattern for females is consistent with parents valuing school impacts on outcomes not well measured by test scores, while the pattern for males is consistent with parents being unable to identify schools’ causal impacts.

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    This data-set has the raw annual district-level per-pupil spending data used in Jackson, Johnson, and Persico (2016). Note that these data report school spending in 2010 dollars.



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    Since Coleman (1966), many have questioned whether school spending affects student outcomes. The school finance reforms that began in the early 1970s and accelerated in the 1980s caused some of the most dramatic changes in the structure of K–12 education spending in US history. To study the effect of these school-finance-reform-induced changes in school spending on long-run adult outcomes, we link school spending and school finance reform data to detailed, nationally-representative data on children born between 1955 and 1985 and followed through 2011. We use the timing of the passage of court-mandated reforms, and their associated type of funding formula change, as an exogenous shifter of school spending and we compare the adult outcomes of cohorts that were differentially exposed to school finance reforms, depending on place and year of birth. Event-study and instrumental variable models reveal that a 10 percent increase in per-pupil spending each year for all twelve years of public school leads to 0.27 more completed years of education, 7.25 percent higher wages, and a 3.67 percentage-point reduction in the annual incidence of adult poverty; effects are much more pronounced for children from low-income families. Exogenous spending increases were associated with sizable improvements in measured school quality, including reductions in student-to-teacher ratios, increases in teacher salaries, and longer school years.

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  • 12/31/16--16:00: Replication code for JPE
  • This files contains all the code required to replicate the findings in

    Jackson, C. Kirabo. (forthcoming) "What Do Test Scores Miss? The Importance of Teacher Effects on Non-Test Score Outcomes" Journal of Political Economy         


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    I present a model in which teachers affect a variety of student outcomes through their influence on both cognitive and noncognitive skill. Empirically, I proxy for students’ noncognitive skill using non-test-score behaviors. These behaviors include absences, suspensions, course grades, and on-time grade progression in 9th grade. Teachers have meaningful effects on both test scores and behaviors. However, teacher effects on test scores and those on behaviors are weakly correlated. Teacher effects on noncognitive proxy measures (i.e. behaviors) predict larger impacts on high-school completion and other longer-run outcomes than their effects on test-scores. Relative to using only test-score measures, using teacher effects on both test-score and noncognitive proxy measures more than doubles the variance of predictable teacher impacts on longer-run outcomes. (JEL I21, J00)

    Replication code is availbe at this link: https://northwestern.box.com/s/nd1xavywccqev7eq6jrebiw1keb6vvmj

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    In 2010, the Ministry of Education in Trinidad and Tobago converted 20 low-performing secondary schools from coeducational to single-sex. I exploit these conversions to identify the causal effect of single-sex schooling holding other school inputs constant. After also accounting for student selection, single-sex cohorts at conversion schools score higher on national exams and are four percentage points more likely to complete secondary school. There are also important non-academic effects; all-boys cohorts have fewer arrests as teens, and all-girls cohorts have lower teen pregnancy rates. These benefits are achieved at zero financial cost. Survey evidence suggests that these single-sex effects reflect both direct gender peer effects due to interactions between classmates, and indirect effects generated through changes in teacher behavior.

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    Social scientist have long sought to examine the causal impact of school spending on child outcomes. The literature on this topic was largely descriptive so that it had been difficult to draw strong causal claims. However, there have been several recent studies in this space that employ larger data-sets and use quasi-experimental methods allowing for much more credible causal claims. This paper briefly discusses the older literature and highlights some of its limitations. It then describes a recent quasi-experimental literature on the impact of school spending on child outcomes, highlights some key papers, and presents a summary of the recent findings. Policy implications are discussed.

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