Current Issue: Volume 15, Issue 3, Summer 2020

Education Finance and Policy - Volume 15, Issue 3, Summer 2020


Note from the Editors. Stephanie Cellini and Randall Reback. Education Finance and Policy Summer 2020, Vol. 15, No. 3, pp. i

Articles

Can Video Technology Improve Teacher Evaluations? An Experimental Study. Thomas J. Kane, David Blazar, Hunter Gehlbach, Miriam Greenberg, David M. Quinn, and Daniel Thal. Education Finance and Policy Summer 2020, Vol. 15, No. 3, pp. 397–427

Teacher evaluation reform has been among the most controversial education reforms in recent years. It also is one of the costliest in terms of the time teachers and principals must spend on classroom observations. We conducted a randomized field trial at four sites to evaluate whether substituting teacher-collected videos for in-person observations could improve the value of teacher observations for teachers, administrators, or students. Relative to teachers in the control group who participated in standard in-person observations, teachers in the video-based treatment group reported that post-observation meetings were more “supportive” and they were more able to identify a specific practice they changed afterward. Treatment principals were able to shift their observation work to noninstructional times. The program also substantially increased teacher retention. Nevertheless, the intervention did not improve students’ academic achievement or self-reported classroom experiences, either in the year of the intervention or for the next cohort of students. Following from the literature on observation and feedback cycles in low-stakes settings, we hypothesize that to improve student outcomes schools may need to pair video feedback with more specific supports for desired changes in practice.

Attendance Spillovers between Public and For-Profit Colleges: Evidence from Statewide Variation in Appropriations for Higher Education. Sarena Goodman and Alice Henriques Volz. Education Finance and Policy Summer 2020, Vol. 15, No. 3, pp. 428–456

Between 2000 and 2010, U.S. public colleges and universities experienced widespread and uneven changes in funding from state and local appropriations. We find that over this period annual decreases in statewide appropriations led to lower public enrollment and higher for-profit enrollment (with no effect on enrollment overall), as well as increased student borrowing. In an analysis of mechanisms, we detect effects on spending, tuition, and capacity in the public sector. Altogether, the results reveal that core institutional resources affect the types of schools that students attend and yield new evidence of substitution between the public and for-profit sectors.

The Effects of Demographic Mismatch in an Elite Professional School Setting. Chris Birdsall, Seth Gershenson, and Raymond Zuniga. Education Finance and Policy Summer 2020, Vol. 15, No. 3, pp. 457–486

Ten years of administrative data from a diverse, private, top-100 law school are used to examine the ways in which female and nonwhite students benefit from exposure to demographically similar faculty in first-year, required law courses. Arguably, causal impacts of exposure to same-sex and same-race instructors on course-specific outcomes such as course grades are identified by leveraging quasi-random classroom assignments and a two-way (student and classroom) fixed effects strategy. Having an other-sex instructor reduces the likelihood of receiving a good grade (A or A–) by 1 percentage point (3 percent) and having an other-race instructor reduces the likelihood of receiving a good grade by 3 percentage points (10 percent). The effects of student–instructor demographic mismatch are particularly salient for nonwhite and female students. These results provide novel evidence of the pervasiveness of demographic-match effects and of the graduate school education production function.

Strategic Default Among Private Student Loan Debtors: Evidence from Bankruptcy Reform. Rajeev Darolia and Dubravka Ritter. Education Finance and Policy Summer 2020, Vol. 15, No. 3, pp. 487–517

Bankruptcy reform in 2005 restricted debtors’ ability to discharge private student loan debt. The reform was motivated by the perceived incentive of some borrowers to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 even if they had, or expected to have, sufficient income to service their debt. Using a nationally representative sample of millions of anonymized credit bureau files, we examine whether private student loan borrowers distinctly adjusted their Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing behavior after the reform. We do not find evidence to indicate that the moral hazard associated with dischargeability appreciably affected the behavior of private student loan debtors prior to the policy. Thus, our findings do not provide empirical support to the theoretical concerns about pervasive strategic default that inspired lawmakers to make private student loan debt largely nondischargeable.

The Impact on Student Achievement of Replacing Principals in District of Columbia Public Schools. Elias Walsh and Dallas Dotter. Education Finance and Policy Summer 2020, Vol. 15, No. 3, pp. 518–542

In this paper, I study heterogeneity in graduate students’ responses to financial incentives. The incentive was given by a student aid reform in Norway that was intended to increase the proportion of students who graduate on time by offering a reduction of their student loan. Using a difference-in-difference strategy and detailed Norwegian register data, I find considerable variation in the treatment effect by student characteristics. Male students, students from low-income families, students in the middle of the ability distribution, and students with dependent children responded more strongly to the reform than others. Both employment rates and earnings of treated students were significantly reduced in the reform period, but the take-up of loans was not largely affected. In summary, male students mainly responded by reducing working hours, whereas female students largely exited employment. Students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds must have adapted through other channels than employment, earnings, or take-up of loans. Students with dependent children responded by increasing their take-up of loans. There is an understudied relationship between student characteristics and student behavior. By learning more about this relationship, it might be possible to design policies that affect student behavior more efficiently than the ones that are in place today.

Student Heterogeneity and Financial Incentives in Graduate Education: Evidence from a Student Aid Reform. Susanna Sten-Gahmberg. Education Finance and Policy Summer 2020, Vol. 15, No. 3, pp. 543–580

In this paper, I study heterogeneity in graduate students’ responses to financial incentives. The incentive was given by a student aid reform in Norway that was intended to increase the proportion of students who graduate on time by offering a reduction of their student loan. Using a difference-in-difference strategy and detailed Norwegian register data, I find considerable variation in the treatment effect by student characteristics. Male students, students from low-income families, students in the middle of the ability distribution, and students with dependent children responded more strongly to the reform than others. Both employment rates and earnings of treated students were significantly reduced in the reform period, but the take-up of loans was not largely affected. In summary, male students mainly responded by reducing working hours, whereas female students largely exited employment. Students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds must have adapted through other channels than employment, earnings, or take-up of loans. Students with dependent children responded by increasing their take-up of loans. There is an understudied relationship between student characteristics and student behavior. By learning more about this relationship, it might be possible to design policies that affect student behavior more efficiently than the ones that are in place today.

Policy Brief

Making the Most of Student Teaching: The Importance of Mentors and Scope for Change. Dan Goldhaber, John Krieg, Natsumi Naito, and Roddy Theobald. Education Finance and Policy Summer 2020, Vol. 15, No. 3, pp. 581–591

A growing literature documents the importance of student teaching placements for teacher development. Emerging evidence from this literature highlights the importance of the mentor teacher who supervises this placement, as teachers tend to be more effective when they student teach with a mentor who is a more effective teacher. But the efficacy of policies that aim to have effective teachers serve as mentors depends a great deal on the availability of effective teachers to serve in this role. We therefore use data from Washington State to illustrate that there is ample scope for change in student teacher placements; in other words, there are far more effective teachers within fifty miles of a teacher education program (TEP) who could host a student teacher in each year than the number of teachers who serve in this role. We also discuss the considerable challenges to improvement efforts related to the need for better coordination between TEPs, K–12 school systems, and states. Finally, we argue that, if policy makers value teacher candidate development equivalently to teacher in-service development, they should be willing to pay substantially more than the current average compensation for mentor teachers to recruit effective teachers to serve in this role.