nep-edu New Economics Papers
on Education
Issue of 2022‒01‒03
seven papers chosen by
Nádia Simões
Instituto Universitário de Lisboa

  1. Does gender matter? The effect of high performing peers on academic performances By Francesca Modena; Enrico Rettore; Giulia Martina Tanzi
  2. Inadequate Teacher Content Knowledge and What to Do About It: Evidence from El Salvador By Aymo Brunetti; Konstantin Büchel; Martina Jakob; Ben Jann; Daniel Steffen
  3. A full year COVID-19 crisis with interrupted learning and two school closures: The effects on learning growth and inequality in primary education By Haelermans, Carla; Jacobs, Madelon; van Vugt, Lynn; Aarts, Bas; Abbink, Henry; Smeets, Chayenne; van der Velden, Rolf; van Wetten, Sanne
  4. Should you Meet The Parents? The impact of information on non-test score attributes on school choice By Elisa Facchetti; Lorenzo Neri; Marco Ovidi
  5. Towering Intellects? Sizing Up the Relationship Between Height and Academic Success By Stephanie Coffey; Amy Ellen Schwartz
  6. Do Boys and Girls Perform Better at Math Just Studying More ? By Eleonora Matteazzi; Martina Menon; Federico Perali
  7. The fertility effects of school entry decisions By Kamb, Rebecca; Tamm, Marcus

  1. By: Francesca Modena (Bank of Italy); Enrico Rettore (Department of Economics and Management, University of Padova and FBK-IRVAPP); Giulia Martina Tanzi (Bank of Italy)
    Abstract: This paper exploits student-level administrative data on the population of Italian university students, from 2006 to 2014, to analyse the effects of high performing (HP) male or female peers on individual academic performance, according to the gender of the student. The identification strategy is based on quasi-random variation in the exposure to HP peers across cohorts, within the same university and the same degree programme. The impact of HP students, proxied by their final high school grade, is heterogeneous. We found that female HP peers have stronger positive effects than HP males, in particular with peers of the same gender. Moreover, there is evidence that exposure to HP males can even be negative, especially for female students in competitive environments, such as the STEM fields of study, and for low ability students of both genders.
    Keywords: Higher education, University performance, Gender, Peers.
    JEL: I22 I23 C21 C35
    Date: 2021–12
  2. By: Aymo Brunetti; Konstantin Büchel; Martina Jakob; Ben Jann; Daniel Steffen
    Abstract: Good teachers are the backbone of a successful education system. Yet, in developing countries, teachers’ content knowledge is often inadequate. This study documents that primary school math teachers in the department of Morazan in El Salvador only master 47 percent of the curriculum they teach. In a randomized controlled trial with 175 teachers, we further evaluate a computer-assisted learning (CAL) approach to address this shortcoming. After a five months in-service training combining CAL-based self-studying with monthly workshops, participating teachers outperformed their peers from the control group by 0.29 standard deviations, but this effect depreciated by 72 percent within one year. Our simulations show that the program is unlikely to be as cost-effective as CAL interventions directly targeting students.
    Keywords: education quality, teacher performance, teacher training, student learning, basic math education, computer-assisted learning
    JEL: C93 I20 I21 I28 O15
    Date: 2021–12–09
  3. By: Haelermans, Carla (ROA / Education and transition to work, RS: GSBE Studio Europa Maastricht, RS: GSBE Theme Learning and Work); Jacobs, Madelon (ROA / Education and transition to work, RS: GSBE other - not theme-related research); van Vugt, Lynn (ROA / Health, skills and inequality, RS: GSBE Theme Learning and Work); Aarts, Bas (RS: GSBE other - not theme-related research, ROA / Human capital in the region); Abbink, Henry (RS: GSBE other - not theme-related research, ROA / Labour market and training); Smeets, Chayenne; van der Velden, Rolf (ROA / Education and transition to work, RS: GSBE Theme Learning and Work); van Wetten, Sanne (RS: GSBE other - not theme-related research, ROA / Education and transition to work)
    Abstract: After more than a year of COVID-19 crisis and the school closures that followed all around the world, the concerns about lower learning growth and exacerbated inequalities are larger than ever. In this paper, we use unique data to analyse how one full year of COVID-19 crisis in Dutch primary education has affected learning growth and pre-existing inequalities. We draw on a dataset that includes around 330,000 Dutch primary school students from about 1,600 schools, with standardized test scores for reading, spelling and mathematics, as well as rich (family) background information of the students. The results show a lower learning growth over a full year for all three domains, varying from 0.06 standard deviations for spelling to 0.12 for maths and 0.17 standard deviations for reading. Furthermore, we find that the lower learning growth is (much) larger for vulnerable students with a low socioeconomic background. This implies that pre-existing inequalities between students from different backgrounds have increased. These results are quite alarming and suggest that distance learning could not compensate for classroom teaching, although it prevented some damage that would have occurred if students had not enjoyed any formal education at all.
    JEL: I24 I20 I21 C90
    Date: 2021–12–14
  4. By: Elisa Facchetti; Lorenzo Neri; Marco Ovidi (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore; Dipartimento di Economia e Finanza, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore)
    Abstract: We study whether parents value non-test score attributes when choosing school. We exploit an intervention designed to provide hard-to-find information about school environment and day-to-day life at local public-sector institutions. School choice in London provides a unique setting where information on academic performance is already diffused and not shifted by the programme we study. Difference-in-differences estimates show the treatment increased enrolment in state-funded schools with respect to private institutions. We uniquely document that the information particularly affected choices of students with high socio-economic status. In addition, the programme has spillover effects on school choice of unexposed parents. Survey data and text analysis of meeting minutes support the interpretation of our results as effects of information on hard-to-find non-test score school attributes. Our results imply that relatively simple interventions may increase state schools’ financial resources and the quality of the student intake.
    Keywords: School choice, Non-test score school attributes, Information intervention.
    JEL: I24 I28 H75
    Date: 2021–12
  5. By: Stephanie Coffey (Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University, 426 Eggers Hall, Syracuse, NY 13244); Amy Ellen Schwartz (Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University, 426 Eggers Hall, Syracuse, NY 13244)
    Abstract: Do tall students do better in school? While a robust literature documents higher earnings among taller people, we know little about the potential academic origins of the height earnings gradient. In this paper, we use unique student-level longitudinal data from New York City (NYC) to examine the link between height and academic outcomes, shedding light on underlying mechanisms. The centerpiece of our empirical work is a regression linking academic outcomes to height, measured as a z-score normalized to same grade/sex peers within schools. We estimate a meaningful height gradient for both boys and girls in ELA and math achievement in all grades 3-8. Controlling for observed student characteristics, a one standard deviation (sd.) increase in height for grade is associated with a 3.5% (4.6%) sd. increase in math (ELA) score for boys and 4.1% (4.8%) sd. for girls. The height gradient is not explained by contemporaneous health, while time-invariant student characteristics correlated with height and achievement explain roughly half of the relationship for boys (3/4 for girls). We also find evidence that ordinal height rank relative to peers may have a small effect on achievement conditional on cardinal height. This paper contributes to a long-standing literature on the effect of age-within-grade on achievement. Our estimates suggest that failing to account for relative height may upwardly bias the relationship between relative age and achievement by up to 25%.
    Keywords: Height, Education, Childhood Health
    JEL: I14 I21 I24
    Date: 2021–12
  6. By: Eleonora Matteazzi; Martina Menon; Federico Perali
    Abstract: This paper investigates the role of effort on mathematics performance of boys and girls, an aspect that may contribute to our understanding of the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields in college. We exploit a remarkably rich primary data set to estimate a simultaneous equations model of mathematics attainment and students’ effort. Our estimation strategy infers causal relations by relying on an instrumental variable approach validated using weak-instruments-robust confidence sets and partial identification techniques. The results show that study effort plays a different role in the math performance of girls and boys. If a boy dedicates one extra hour to study, his math grade increases by 1 point on a 10-point scale. Differently, an additional hour of home study does not have an effect on girls’ math performance, though, in our sample, on average, girls perform significantly better than boys in math. We also examine the role played by peers, the quality of the attended school, and family socio-economic background. These factors mainly affect math achievement only indirectly through student’s effort. Validity tests suggest that our results are not confounded by unobservable heterogeneity. Our findings suggest that asking girls for additional efforts may not be effective to bridge the gender gap in STEM.
    Keywords: Mathematics, effort, gender inequality, peer effects, school quality
    Date: 2021
  7. By: Kamb, Rebecca; Tamm, Marcus
    Abstract: School entry regulations lead to differences in the age when children start school. While previous literature estimated the effects of age at school entry for compliers with school entry regulations, we look at non-compliers, namely those who enter school one year before the official entry date. Based on an instrumental variable approach, the results show that early enrollment increases the number of children by 0.1, whereas we find no significant impact on rates of childlessness.
    Keywords: School starting age,early school enrollment,fertility,motherhood,childlessness
    JEL: I21 J24
    Date: 2021

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