Current Issue: Volume 12, Issue 1 - Winter 2017

Education Finance and Policy - Volume 12, Issue 1 - Winter 2017

Capitalization of Charter Schools into Residential Property Values. Margaret Brehm, Scott A. Imberman, Michael Naretta. Education Finance and Policy, Winter 2017, Vol. 12, No. 1: 1–27.

Although prior research has found clear impacts of schools and school quality on property values, little is known about whether charter schools have similar effects. Using sale price data for residential properties in Los Angeles County from 2008 to 2011 we estimate the neighborhood level impact of charter schools on housing prices. Using an identification strategy that relies on census-block fixed effects and variation in charter penetration over time, we find little evidence that the availability of a charter school affects housing prices on average. We do find, however, that when restricting to districts other than Los Angeles Unified and counting only charter schools located in the same school district as the household, housing prices fall in response to an increase in nearby charter penetration.
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Closer to the Finish Line? Compulsory Attendance, Grade Attainment, and High School Graduation. Wael S. Moussa. Education Finance and Policy, Winter 2017, Vol. 12, No. 1: 28–53.

High school graduation rates are a central policy topic in the United States and have been shown to be stagnant for the past three decades. Using student-level administrative data from New York City Public Schools, I examine the impact of compulsory school attendance on high school graduation rates and grade attainment, focusing the analysis on ninth and tenth grade cohorts. I exploit the interaction between the school start-age cutoff and compulsory attendance age requirement to identify the effect of compulsory schooling. I find that an additional year in compulsory attendance leads to an increase of 9 to 12 percent in the probability of progressing to grades 11 and 12, and raises the probability of graduating from high school by 9 to 14 percent, depending on the specification.

Adequate (or Adipose?) Yearly Progress: Assessing the Effect of “No Child Left Behind” on Children's Obesity. Patricia M. Anderson, Kristin F. Butcher, Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach. Education Finance and Policy, Winter 2017, Vol. 12, No. 1: 54–76.

This paper investigates how accountability pressures under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) may have affected students’ rate of overweight. Schools facing pressure to improve academic outcomes may reallocate their efforts in ways that have unintended consequences for children's health. To examine the impact of school accountability, we create a unique panel dataset containing school-level data on test scores and students’ weight outcomes from schools in Arkansas. We code schools as facing accountability pressures if they are on the margin of making Adequate Yearly Progress, measured by whether the school's minimum-scoring subgroup had a passing rate within 5 percentage points of the threshold. We find evidence of small effects of accountability pressures on the percent of students at a school who are overweight. This finding is little changed if we controlled for the school's lagged rate of overweight, or use alternative ways to identify schools facing NCLB pressure.

Has NCLB Encouraged Educational Triage? Accountability and the Distribution of Achievement Gains. Dale Ballou, Matthew G. Springer. Education Finance and Policy, Winter 2017, Vol. 12, No. 1: 77–106.

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has been criticized for encouraging schools to neglect students whose performance exceeds the proficiency threshold or lies so far below it that there is no reasonable prospect of closing the gap during the current year. We examine this hypothesis using longitudinal data from 2002–03 through 2005–06. Our identification strategy relies on the fact that as NCLB was phased in, states had some latitude in designating which grades were to count for purposes of a school making adequate yearly progress. We compare the mathematics achievement distribution in a grade before and after it became a high-stakes grade. We find in general no evidence that gains were concentrated on students near the proficiency standard at the expense of students scoring much lower, though there are inconsistent signs of a trade-off with students at the upper end of the distribution.

Grading System and Student Effort. Valentina Paredes. Education Finance and Policy, Winter 2017, Vol. 12, No. 1: 107–128.

Several papers have proposed that the grading system affects students’ incentives to exert effort. In particular, the previous literature has compared student effort under relative and absolute grading systems, but the results are mixed and the implications of the models have not been empirically tested. In this paper, I build a model where students maximize their utility by choosing effort. I investigate how student effort changes when there is a change in the grading system from absolute grading to relative grading. I use a unique dataset from college students in Chile who faced a change in the grading system to test the implications of my model. My model predicts that, for low levels of uncertainty, low-ability students exert less effort with absolute grading, and high-ability students exert more effort with absolute grading. The data confirm that there is a change in the distribution of effort.

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