nep-edu New Economics Papers
on Education
Issue of 2022‒10‒17
seven papers chosen by
Nádia Simões
Instituto Universitário de Lisboa

  1. Much Ado about Nothing? School Curriculum Reforms and Students' Educational Trajectories By Maurizio Strazzeri; Chantal Oggenfuss; Stefan C. Wolter
  2. Patterns, Determinants, and Consequences of Ability Tracking: Evidence from Texas Public Schools By Kate Antonovics; Sandra E. Black; Julie Berry Cullen; Akiva Yonah Meiselman
  3. Returns to Different Postsecondary Investments: Institution Type, Academic Programs, and Credentials By Lovenheim, Michael; Smith, Jonathan
  4. School supply constraints in track choices: A French study using high school openings By Manon Garrouste; Meryam Zaiem
  5. Peer Networks and Malleability of Educational Aspirations By Michelle Gonz\'alez Amador; Robin Cowan; Eleonora Nillesen
  6. Dreaming of a Brighter Future? The Impact of Economic Vulnerability on University Aspirations By Watson, Barry; Kong, Nancy; Phipps, Shelley
  7. Teachers' Desired Mobility to Disadvantaged Schools: Do Financial Incentives Matter? By Julien Silhol; Lionel Wilner

  1. By: Maurizio Strazzeri; Chantal Oggenfuss; Stefan C. Wolter
    Abstract: We estimate the impact of a large curriculum reform in Switzerland that substantially increased the share of foreign language classes in compulsory school on students’ subsequent educational choices in upper secondary school. Using administrative student register data and exploiting the staggered implementation of the curriculum reform, we find that exposure to more foreign language classes during compulsory school has only minor effects on educational choices of the overall student population. However, we find substantial effect heterogeneity: while the reform has no effect on the direct educational progression of either low-track female or high-track students, it impedes low-track male students’ transition to upper secondary education. The effect of foreign language classes on the educational trajectory of low-track male students is particularly pronounced for students who do not speak at home the school’s language of instruction. Finally, we find that female students who start vocational training immediately after compulsory school are more likely to select into training occupations that require higher foreign language skills instead of natural science skills.
    Keywords: policy evaluation, Goodman-Bacon decomposition, education reform, foreign language skills, compulsory school, educational choices, occupational choices
    JEL: I21 I24 I28
    Date: 2022
  2. By: Kate Antonovics; Sandra E. Black; Julie Berry Cullen; Akiva Yonah Meiselman
    Abstract: Schools often track students to classes based on ability. Proponents of tracking argue it is a low-cost tool to improve learning since instruction is more effective when students are more homogeneous, while opponents argue it exacerbates initial differences in opportunities without strong evidence of efficacy. In fact, little is known about the pervasiveness or determinants of ability tracking in the US. To fill this gap, we use detailed administrative data from Texas to estimate the extent of tracking within schools for grades 4 through 8 over the years 2011-2019. We find substantial tracking; tracking within schools overwhelms any sorting by ability that takes place across schools. The most important determinant of tracking is heterogeneity in student ability, and schools operationalize tracking through the classification of students into categories such as gifted and disabled and curricular differentiation. When we examine how tracking changes in response to educational policies, we see that schools decrease tracking in response to accountability pressures. Finally, when we explore how exposure to tracking correlates with student mobility in the achievement distribution, we find positive effects on high-achieving students with no negative effects on low-achieving students, suggesting that tracking may increase inequality by raising the ceiling.
    Keywords: ability tracking, achievement mobility
    JEL: H75 I21 I24 I28
    Date: 2022
  3. By: Lovenheim, Michael (Cornell University); Smith, Jonathan (Georgia State University)
    Abstract: Early research on the returns to higher education treated the postsecondary system as a monolith. In reality, postsecondary education in the United States and around the world is highly differentiated, with a variety of options that differ by credential (associates degree, bachelor's degree, diploma, certificate, graduate degree), the control of the institution (public, private not-for-profit, private for-profit), the quality/resources of the institution, field of study, and exposure to remedial education. In this Chapter, we review the literature on the returns to these different types of higher education investments, which has received increasing attention in recent decades. We first provide an overview of the structure of higher education in the U.S. and around the world, followed by a model that helps clarify and articulate the assumptions employed by different estimators used in the literature. We then discuss the research on the return to institution type, focusing on the return to two-year, four-year, and for-profit institutions as well as the return to college quality within and across these institution types. We also present the research on the return to different educational programs, including vocational credentials, remedial education, field of study, and graduate school. The wide variation in the returns to different postsecondary investments that we document leads to the question of how students from different backgrounds sort into these different institutions and programs. We discuss the emerging research showing that lower-SES students, especially in the U.S., are more likely to sort into colleges and programs with lower returns as well as results from recent U.S.-based interventions and policies designed to support success among students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Chapter concludes with some broad directions for future research.
    Keywords: returns to college, college choice, literature review
    JEL: I23
    Date: 2022–09
  4. By: Manon Garrouste (LEM - Lille économie management - UMR 9221 - UA - Université d'Artois - UCL - Université catholique de Lille - Université de Lille - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Meryam Zaiem
    Abstract: We study the effect of opening a new high school on individual schooling decisions at the end of lower secondary education. The working sample covers all ninth graders between 2007–2008 and 2012–2013 in France. The two-way fixed-effect estimation strategy uses variation in time and space to estimate the causal effect of an increase in school supply. Opening a new high school significantly increases the probability of pupils from neighboring middle schools continuing in higher secondary education. The effect is exclusively due to new high schools proposing a vocational track. Furthermore, the effect is mainly driven by low-achieving students.
    Keywords: Education,Track choice,School openings,Difference-in-differences,Two-way fixed effects
    Date: 2020–10
  5. By: Michelle Gonz\'alez Amador; Robin Cowan; Eleonora Nillesen
    Abstract: Continuing education beyond the compulsory years of schooling is one of the most important choices an adolescent has to make. Higher education is associated with a host of social and economic benefits both for the person and its community. Today, there is ample evidence that educational aspirations are an important determinant of said choice. We implement a multilevel, networked experiment in 45 Mexican high schools and provide evidence of the malleability of educational aspirations. We also show there exists an interdependence of students' choices and the effect of our intervention with peer networks. We find that a video intervention, which combines role models and information about returns to education is successful in updating students' beliefs and consequently educational aspirations.
    Date: 2022–09
  6. By: Watson, Barry (University of New Brunswick); Kong, Nancy (University of Sydney); Phipps, Shelley (Dalhousie University)
    Abstract: We examine whether there is an inequality of opportunity to achieve higher education, partially explained by aspirations for youth age 12-15 in economically vulnerable households. Using a unique Canadian dataset (2002-2008), we find that poverty is associated with reduced university aspirations from the perspective of the youth and their mother. Further, poverty depth matters less than incidence. In terms of magnitude, poverty contributes to about 10-15 percent of the observed inequality of opportunity gap (mother's education being the largest factor at 30 percent). Interestingly, economic insecurity is not associated with educational aspirations, and this result persists regardless of how we measure insecurity. Controls for academic effort, including standardized test scores, daily reading, and getting good grades do not impact these findings. Results therefore suggest that alleviating child poverty and easing post-secondary financial barriers among the poor, may help offset reduced university aspirations at a critical time in a youth's life.
    Keywords: education, aspirations, poverty, economic insecurity, inequality of opportunity
    JEL: I21 I23 I24 I32 D63
    Date: 2022–09
  7. By: Julien Silhol; Lionel Wilner
    Abstract: This paper exploits a 2018 reform of teachers’ financial incentives to work in some French disadvantaged schools. Based on this quasi-natural experiment, it evaluates the impact of those incentives on teachers’ stated preferences to move to such schools. Using data from the internal human resource management of some educational authority, we find that most responsive teachers have less experience and work already in those areas. Counterfactual simulations suggest that the policy has not hurt other disadvantaged schools, but rather induced some teachers not to remain in their current school or to opt less for regular schools.
    Keywords: teacher mobility, financial incentives, stated preferences, rank-ordered choices, disadvantaged schools
    JEL: I21 I22 J45
    Date: 2022

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