Category Archives: Education

Public School Choice: An Economic Analysis

Source: Levon Barseghyan, Damon Clark, Stephen Coate, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), NBER Working Paper No. w20701, November 2014
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From the abstract:
Public school choice programs give households a free choice of public school and provide schools incentives to compete for students. Proponents of these programs argue that by the usual market logic, choice and competition will improve the quality of the education that schools provide. Critics counter that the usual market logic does not translate easily to schools, since households’ perceptions of school quality depend not only on the efforts of school personnel but also on the composition of the student body (i.e., households have peer preferences). This paper advances this debate by developing and analyzing an economic model of public school choice. To capture the pro-choice argument, the model assumes that a neighborhood enrollment policy that provides schools with no incentives to exert effort is replaced by a prototypical public school choice policy in which households have a free choice of school and schools have incentives to compete for students. To capture the anti-choice argument the model assumes that households have peer preferences. The analysis of the equilibrium of this model generates three findings that highlight potential limitations of choice programs.

State Expenditure Report (Fiscal 2012-2014 Data)

Source: National Association of State Budget Officers, 2014

This annual report examines spending in the functional areas of state budgets: elementary and secondary education, higher education, public assistance, Medicaid, corrections, transportation, and all other. It also includes data on the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and on revenue sources in state general funds.

The latest edition of NASBO’s State Expenditure Report finds that total state spending in fiscal 2014 is estimated to have grown at its fastest pace since before the recession, largely due to an increase in federal Medicaid funds as a majority of states chose to expand enrollment under the Affordable Care Act. Total state spending growth in fiscal 2013 was more modest; however, total state expenditure did return to positive growth following declines in fiscal 2012.

Nutritional Comparison of Packed and School Lunches in Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten Children Following the Implementation of the 2012–2013 National School Lunch Program Standards

Source: Alisha R. Farris, Sarah Misyak, Kiyah J. Duffey, George C. Davis, Kathy Hosig, Naama Atzaba-Poria, Mary M. McFerren, Elena L. Serrano, Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, Vol. 46 no. 6, November–December 2014
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From the abstract:
Objective: Approximately 40% of children bring a packed lunch to school. Little is known about the quality of these lunches. This study examined the nutritional quality of packed lunches compared with school lunches for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten children after the implementation of 2012–2013 National School Lunch Program standards.
Methods: The researchers collected observational data for packed and school lunches from 3 schools in rural Virginia for 5 consecutive school days and analyzed them for macro and micro nutrients.
Results: Of the 1,314 observations collected; 42.8% were packed lunches and 57.2% were school lunches. Energy, fat, saturated fat, sugar, vitamin C, and iron were significantly higher whereas protein, sodium, fiber, vitamin A, and calcium were significantly lower for packed lunches than school lunches.
Conclusions and Implications: Packed lunches were of less nutritional quality than school lunches. Additional research is needed to explore factors related to choosing packed over school lunches.

School Nurses Race to the Top: The Pilot Year of How One District’s School Nurses Revised Their Evaluation Process

Source: Louise Marie Haffke, Paula Damm, Barbara Cross, Journal of School Nursing, Vol. 30 no. 6, December 2014
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From the abstract:
During the 2013–2014 school year, the Shaker Heights, Ohio City school district was mandated to change its evaluation process as part of the Race to the Top initiative. Although not required by the federal or state Departments of Education, the Shaker Heights City school district tasked all members of their faculty and staff, including school nurses, to change their evaluation process in an effort to improve students’ performances and outcomes. This article chronicles how the Shaker Heights school nurses modified their evaluation process by adhering to the scopes and standards of school nursing as described by the American Nurses Association and National Association of School Nurses. Their revised evaluation tool could usefully serve as a model for school districts nationwide; it improves student outcomes, increases the professionalism of the school nurse specialty, increases administrative understanding of their role, and increases their accountability as independent health providers in the school.

Older Americans: Inability to Repay Student Loans May Affect Financial Security of a Small Percentage of Retirees

Source: United States Government Accountability Office, GAO-14-866T, September 10, 2014

From the summary:
Comparatively few households headed by older Americans carry student debt compared to other types of debt, such as for mortgages and credit cards. GAO’s analysis of the data from the Survey of Consumer Finances reveals that about 3 percent of households headed by those aged 65 or older—about 706,000 households—carry student loan debt. This compares to about 24 percent of households headed by those aged 64 or younger—22 million households. Compared to student loan debt, those 65 and older are much more likely to carry other types of debt. For example, about 29 percent carry home mortgage debt and 27 percent carry credit card debt. Still, student debt among older American households has grown in recent years. The percentage of households headed by those aged 65 to 74 having student debt grew from about 1 percent in 2004 to about 4 percent in 2010. While those 65 and older account for a small fraction of the total amount of outstanding federal student debt, the outstanding federal student debt for this age group grew from about $2.8 billion in 2005 to about $18.2 billion in 2013.

Inputs in the Production of Early Childhood Human Capital: Evidence from Head Start

Source: Christopher Walters, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), NBER Working Paper No. w20639, October 2014
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From the abstract:
Studies of small-scale “model” early-childhood programs show that high-quality preschool can have transformative effects on human capital and economic outcomes. Evidence on the Head Start program is more mixed. Inputs and practices vary widely across Head Start centers, however, and little is known about variation in effectiveness within Head Start. This paper uses data from a multi-site randomized evaluation to quantify and explain variation in effectiveness across Head Start childcare centers. I answer two questions: (1) How much do short-run effects vary across Head Start centers? and (2) To what extent do inputs, practices, and child characteristics explain this variation? To answer the first question, I use a selection model with random coefficients to quantify heterogeneity in Head Start effects, accounting for non-compliance with experimental assignments. Estimates of the model show that the cross-center standard deviation of cognitive effects is 0.18 test score standard deviations, which is larger than typical estimates of variation in teacher or school effectiveness. Next, I assess the role of observed inputs, practices and child characteristics in generating this variation, focusing on inputs commonly cited as central to the success of model programs. My results show that Head Start centers offering full-day service boost cognitive skills more than other centers, while Head Start centers offering frequent home visiting are especially effective at raising non-cognitive skills. Head Start is also more effective for children with less-educated mothers. Centers that draw more children from center-based preschool have smaller effects, suggesting that cross-center differences in effects may be partially due to differences in counterfactual preschool options. Other key inputs, including the High/Scope curriculum, teacher education, and class size, are not associated with increased effectiveness in Head Start. Together, observed inputs explain about one-third of the variation in Head Start effectiveness across experimental sites.

Organizing Within Our Changing Profession

Source: Academe, Volume 100, Issue 5, September-October 2014

Articles include:
Overcoming the Challenges of Contingent Faculty Organizing
By David Kociemba
How to organize and maintain a bargaining unit representing adjunct faculty.

Organizing for Advocacy
By Miranda Merklein
Building a new chapter at a community college where all faculty jobs are contingent.

Making a Tangible Difference in Campus Culture in One Year
By Simeon Dreyfuss
Chapter building at a small Catholic university with no tenure-track faculty.

Turning Back the Tide on Contingency
By Ron Bramhall
Balancing the needs of tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty in a union contract.

The Secrets of Successful Membership Recruitment
By Christopher Vecsey
Creating an effective advocacy chapter at a private liberal arts university.

An Unsuccessful Organizing Campaign
By Sally Angel
A postmortem of a failed organizing campaign.

From Preschool to Prosperity: The Economic Payoff to Early Childhood Education

Source: Timothy J. Bartik, Upjohn Institute, September 2014

From the summary:
Bartik shows that investment in high-quality early childhood education has several long-term benefits, including higher adult earnings for program participants.
Why Early Childhood Education is an Attractive Economic Development Investment
Source: Timothy J. Bartik, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, Presentation at webinar of ReadyNation and Council of State Chambers Policy Center, September 16, 2014

Safety, Security, and College Attainment: An Investigation of Undergraduates’ Basic Needs and Institutional Response

Source: Katharine Broton, Victoria Frank & Sara Goldrick-Rab, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Paper prepared for presentation at the annual meetings of the Association for Public Policy and Management, October 2014

There is increasing evidence that students from low-income families are facing great difficulties in covering the costs of college attendance, as need-based financial aid has not kept up with rising costs. For some students, these financial constraints can lead to difficult decisions about whether to sacrifice consistent access to food or secure and safe housing in order to remain in school. This paper examines evidence of these struggles among undergraduates and then turns to consider how institutional leaders are responding. Using quantitative and qualitative data from five states, we explore three types of responses. One group of leaders embraces the work of meeting students’ basic needs as part of the college mission and actively seeks strategies and solution, while another group expresses a desire to help but mainly engages in wishful thinking. At the same time, some institutional actors respond to students’ financial constraints by questioning whether or not they belong in college, raising concerns about their deservingness. Implications for future research, policy, and practice are discussed.