nep-edu New Economics Papers
on Education
Issue of 2023‒02‒20
eight papers chosen by
Nádia Simões
Instituto Universitário de Lisboa

  1. High school and exam scores: Does their predictive validity for academic performance vary with programme selectivity? By Pedro Luis Silva; Carla Sá; Ricardo Biscaia; Pedro N. Teixeira
  2. Can grit be taught? Lessons from a nationwide field experiment with middle-school students By Santos, Indhira; Petroska-Beska, Violeta; Carneiro, Pedro; Eskreis-Winkler, Lauren; Munoz Boudet, Ana Maria; Berneil, Ines; Krekel, Christian; Arias, Omar; Duckworth, Angela
  3. Bringing underprivileged middle-school students to the opera: cultural mobility or cultural compliance? By Philippe Coulangeon; Denis Fougère
  4. Changing the Odds: Student Achievement after Introduction of a Middle School Math Intervention By Julian R. Betts; Andrew C. Zau; Karen Volz Bachofer; Dina Polichar
  5. Do Wildfires Harm Student Learning? By Ge We
  6. The effects of parental union dissolution on children’s test scores By Holm, Mathilde Lund; Fallesen, Peter; Heinesen, Eskil
  7. Measuring Returns to Experience Using Supervisor Ratings of Observed Performance: The Case of Classroom Teachers By Courtney A. Bell; Jessalynn K. James; Eric S. Taylor; James Wyckoff
  8. Cognitive Ability and Perceived Disagreement in Learning By Piotr Evdokimov; Umberto Garfagnini

  1. By: Pedro Luis Silva (Centre for Research in Higher Education Policies, School of Economics and Management (FEP); and IZA Institute of Labor Economics); Carla Sá (NIPE/Center for Research in Economics and Management, University of Minho; and Centre for Research in Higher Education Policies (CIPES)); Ricardo Biscaia (Centre for Research in Higher Education Policies (CIPES), Portugal; and School of Economics and Management (FEP), University of Porto, Portugal); Pedro N. Teixeira (Centre for Research in Higher Education Policies (CIPES), Portugal and School of Economics and Management (FEP), University of Porto, Portugal and IZA Institute of Labor Economics, Germany)
    Abstract: Students are admitted into higher education based on their past performance.This paper compares two measures of past cognitive skills: teacher and national exam scores. By using a nationwide dataset, we look at how the predictive power of teacher assessment and exam scores for selecting successful students may vary with the degree of selectivity of higher education programmes. We find that teacher scores predict students’ performance in higher education more accurately, and its predictive power remains the same independently of the selectivity programme indicator considered. We found that national exam scores are noisier and only gain relevance for highly selective programmes. Furthermore, we explore national exams’ volatility and institutional selectivity as potential mechanisms to justify the results. Our results provide solid policy hints on the role that high school scores and admission exams should have for access and performance in higher education.
    Keywords: Admission Exams; Teacher Scores; Higher Education; Selectivity.
    JEL: I23 I21 I20 J24
    Date: 2022
  2. By: Santos, Indhira; Petroska-Beska, Violeta; Carneiro, Pedro; Eskreis-Winkler, Lauren; Munoz Boudet, Ana Maria; Berneil, Ines; Krekel, Christian; Arias, Omar; Duckworth, Angela
    Abstract: We study whether a particular socio-emotional skill - grit (the ability to sustain effort and interest towards long-term goals) - can be cultivated through a large-scale program, and how this affects student learning. Using a randomized control trial, we evaluate the first nationwide implementation of a low-cost intervention designed to foster grit and self-regulation among sixth and seventh-grade students in primary schools in North Macedonia (about 33, 000 students across 350 schools). The results of this interventions are mixed. Exposed students report improvements in self-regulation, in particular the perseverance-of-effort facet of grit, relative to students in a control condition. Impacts on students are larger when both students and teachers are exposed to the curriculum than when only students are treated. For disadvantaged students, we also find positive impacts on grade point averages, with gains of up to 28 percent of a standard deviation one-year post-treatment. However, while this intervention made students more perseverant and industrious, it reduced the consistency-of-interest facet of grit. This means that exposed students are less able to maintain consistent interests for long periods.
    Keywords: socioemotional skills; grit; GPAs; middle-school students; field experiment; RCT
    JEL: C93 D91 I20
    Date: 2022–10–17
  3. By: Philippe Coulangeon (CRIS - Centre de recherche sur les inégalités sociales (Sciences Po, CNRS) - Sciences Po - Sciences Po - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Denis Fougère (CRIS - Centre de recherche sur les inégalités sociales (Sciences Po, CNRS) - Sciences Po - Sciences Po - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Abstract: This article assesses the impact of a two-year long project-based learning program conducted by the National Opera of Paris in a large number of middle schools located in underprivileged areas, aiming at preventing school dropout and tackling educational inequalities by providing disadvantaged students with the opportunity to discover the world of opera. Taking a counterfactual approach (propensity score matching), we measure the impact of participation in the program on final exam and continuous assessment grades. The analysis displays mixed results: a significant and positive impact for the students who participate in the program for its whole duration (two years), at least for continuous assessment scores, but a negative impact for those who leave the program after only one year. The contrast between the effects of full and partial participation in the program suggests that these may be primarily due to a selection effect in favor of the most culturally and socially compliant students, in line with Bourdieu's and Passeron's reproduction theory (1997 [1970]) rather than a mobility effect (DiMaggio, 1982) resulting from the transfer of cultural capital to disadvantaged students.
    Keywords: project-based learning, middle school, statistical matching, mixed method, cultural capital
    Date: 2022
  4. By: Julian R. Betts; Andrew C. Zau; Karen Volz Bachofer; Dina Polichar
    Abstract: The paper evaluates math performance at four high-need middle schools during a four-year intervention, which was designed to help math teachers diagnose students’ areas of need and to design lesson plans responsive to those needs. Before the intervention began, the researchers pre-selected four comparison schools by matching based on achievement and also on demographics. A difference-in-difference analysis finds a significant increase of about 0.11 standard deviation in test scores per year for students in the program schools. Supplementary event study and synthetic control analyses to detect year-by-year effects lack precision but are weakly suggestive of a smaller impact in year 1 than later years. A cost analysis considers the affordability of extending similar programs.
    JEL: I2 I21 I24 I28
    Date: 2023–01
  5. By: Ge We (Department of Economics, University of Tennessee)
    Abstract: I evaluate the effect of wildfire smoke on primary and middle school students’ English Language Arts (ELA) and math achievement across the United States. To estimate students’ exposure to wildfires at the school district level, I merge satellite-based wildfire smoke plume boundaries and 1km-grid daily PM2.5 values with school district locations, and weight the exposure by census tract population. I find that recent drifting wildfire smoke plumes significantly lower ELA and math test scores. When I proxy the wildfire intensity by PM2.5, results suggest that severe wildfires generate lasting effects on young students in primary school. Effects are only transitory for students in middle school. Further analysis reveals that Black students in primary school and economically disadvantaged students are more negatively affected than others. Males are more affected by unhealthy air quality in elementary ELA and middle school math than female students. Overall, findings suggest that more environmental and educational policy responses are needed to protect students with the increase in wildfire occurrence and intensity
    Keywords: Wildfire, Academic Performance, Education Disparity
    JEL: I21 I24 Q54
    Date: 2022–02
  6. By: Holm, Mathilde Lund; Fallesen, Peter (ROCKWOOL Foundation); Heinesen, Eskil
    Abstract: This study provides evidence on the immediate and long-term effects of parental separation and union dissolution on children’s test scores. We use administrative full population data on parents moving out of the joint home and national school-administered low-stakes test. First, a staggered event-study design finds long-term negative effects on test scores with indications of a dynamic effect increasing by time since separation. Results hold when applying recent innovation in difference-in-differences methods. Further, the decline in test scores originates from the middle of the skill distribution. Second, we demonstrate plausible indications of an immediate negative effect of parental separation on children’s test scores using a regression discontinuity design, with the difference in time between test date and parental separation as the running variable.
    Date: 2023–01–14
  7. By: Courtney A. Bell; Jessalynn K. James; Eric S. Taylor; James Wyckoff
    Abstract: We study the returns to experience in teaching, estimated using supervisor ratings from classroom observations. We describe the assumptions required to interpret changes in observation ratings over time as the causal effect of experience on performance. We compare two difference-in-differences strategies: the two-way fixed effects estimator common in the literature, and an alternative which avoids potential bias arising from effect heterogeneity. Using data from Tennessee and Washington, DC, we show empirical tests relevant to assessing the identifying assumptions and substantive threats—e.g., leniency bias, manipulation, changes in incentives or job assignments—and find our estimates are robust to several threats.
    JEL: I2 J24 M5
    Date: 2023–01
  8. By: Piotr Evdokimov (HU Berlin); Umberto Garfagnini (University of Surrey)
    Abstract: Do agents believe to be agreeing more with others in the long-run? This paper designs an experiment to study how cognitive abilities affect actual and perceived disagreement in a standard sequential belief updating task with public signals. We document a persistent gap in the perception of disagreement as a function of cognitive ability. Higher cognitive ability is associated with less perceived disagreement, although the average subject underestimates the extent of actual disagreement regardless of cognitive ability. Learning about the state of the world has little effect on the evolution of perceived disagreement when controlling for cognitive ability. Providing subjects with information about their partner’s cognitive ability affects perceived disagreement only when the partner is less cognitively able.
    Keywords: cognitive ability; disagreement; learning;
    JEL: C90 D83 D89
    Date: 2023–02–06

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