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The latest research & analysis from PEEPs education policy experts.
Racial Disparities in School Poverty and Spending: Examining Allocations Within and Across Districts
January 6, 2023
Robert Bifulco, Sarah Souders

Using recently available school-level finance data, we compare exposure to low-income classmates and average per pupil spending for black, Hispanic, and white students. Using within metropolitan area comparisons, we find that the typical black and Hispanic students attend schools with much higher proportions of low-income students than the typical white student, and that per pupil spending in the typical black and Hispanic students’ schools is higher than in the typical white student’s school.

Model Minorities in the Classroom? Positive Evaluation Bias towards Asian Students and its Consequences
December 22, 2022
Ying Shi, Maria Zhu

The fast-growing demographic group of Asian Americans is often perceived as a “model minority.” This paper establishes empirical evidence of this stereotype in the context of education and then analyzes its consequences.

The Fiscal Sustainability of Retiree Health Care Benefits Among New York State School Districts
December 22, 2022
Robert Bifulco, Minch Lewis, Iuliia Shybalkina

We examine spending on retiree health care as a percentage of revenues for a sample of New York State school districts. The fiscal burden of these benefits grew from 2010 to 2021, and big city school districts have faced the largest burdens.

Mothers of Disabled Children Faced Numerous Challenges During the COVID-19 Pandemic
December 13, 2022
Amy Lutz, Sujung (Crystal) Lee, and Baurzhan Bokayev

The COVID-19 pandemic changed life dramatically for most families, but particularly for families with a disabled child. Mothers of disabled children faced increased difficulties during the early months of COVID-19 compared to other families. According to research, many parents of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities reported a reduction in services offered to their child.

Public Prekindergarten Expansion and Children's School Readiness: Examining Effects of the Virginia Preschool Initiative Plus Program on Early Educational Experiences and Early Literacy Skills
September 1, 2022
Michah Rothbart, Taryn Morrissey

While previous research documents the direct benefits of preschool for those who attend, less is known about how the availability of public preschool indirectly affects the early educational experiences, preschool attendance patterns, and school readiness measures in a population of children more broadly. This study uses administrative data from Virginia of first-time kindergarteners from 2007 to 2019 (about 1,000,000 students) to better understand associations between public preschool availability, patterns of prekindergarten participation, and school readiness.

Towering Intellects? Sizing Up the Relationship Between Height and Academic Success
December 1, 2021
Stephanie Coffey, Amy Ellen Schwartz

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.

Using Pupil Transportation Data to Explore Educational Inequities and Outcomes: A Case Study from NYC
December 1, 2021
Sarah Cordes, Samantha Trajkovski, Christopher Rick, Meryle Weinstein, Amy Ellen Schwartz

This article explores how researchers can use pupil transportation data to explore key questions about the role of transportation in educational access and equity, such as how students get to school and the effect of transportation on student outcomes. We first describe different sources of transportation data that are available to researchers, provide a brief review of relevant literature, and discuss potential sources of measurement error in pupil transportation data.

What Makes a Classmate a Peer? Examining Which Peers Matter in NYC Elementary Schools
November 1, 2021
William C. Horrace, Hyunseok Jung, Jonathan L. Presler, Amy Ellen Schwartz

Generalizing the group interaction model of Lee (2007), we identify and estimate the effects of student level social spillovers on standardized test performance in New York City (NYC) elementary schools. We leverage student demographic data to construct within-classroom social networks based on shared student characteristics, such as a gender or ethnicity.

Technical Efficiency of Public Middle Schools in New York City
December 1, 2020
William C. Horrace, Michah W. Rothbart, Yi Yang

Using panel data and a “true” fixed effect stochastic frontier model, we estimate persistent and transient technical inefficiency in mathematics (Math) and English Language Arts (ELA) test score gains in NYC public middle schools from 2014 to 2016. We compare several measures of transient technical inefficiency and show that around 58% of NYC middle schools are efficient in Math gains, while 16% are efficient in ELA gains.

Genetic Risks, Adolescent Health and Schooling Attainment
July 1, 2020
Vikesh Amin, Jere R. Behrman, Jason M. Fletcher, Carlos A. Flores, Alfonso Flores-Lagunes, Hans-Peter Kohler

The authors provide new evidence on the effect of adolescent health behaviors/outcomes (obesity, depression, smoking, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)) on schooling attainment using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. The authors take two different approaches to deal with omitted variable bias and reverse causality.

Paying for Free Lunch: The Impact of CEP Universal Free Meals on Revenues, Spending, and Student Health
April 1, 2020
Michah W. Rothbart, Amy Ellen Schwartz, Emily Gutierrez

The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 allows school districts to provide free meals to all students if more than 40 percent of students are individually eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. While emerging evidence documents positive effects on student behavior and academics (Gordon and Ruffini, 2019; Schwartz and Rothbart, 2020), critics worry that Universal Free Meals (UFM) has unintended consequences, including exacerbating student obesity and adding financial burden onto school districts.

Who Benefits from Accountability-Driven School Closure? Evidence from NYC
December 1, 2018
Robert Bifulco, David Schwegman

The authors estimate the effects of accountability-driven school closure in New York City on students who attended middle schools that were closed at the time of closure and students who would have likely attended a closed middle school had it remained open. The authors find that students who would have entered the closed school, had it not closed, attended schools that perform better on standardized exams and have higher value-added measures than did the closed schools.

Let Them Eat Lunch: The Impact of Universal Free Meals on Student Performance
December 1, 2017
Amy Ellen Schwartz, Michah Rothbart

This paper investigates the impact of extending free school lunch to all students, regardless of income, on academic performance in New York City middle schools. Using a difference-in-difference design and unique longitudinal, student level data, the authors derive credibly causal estimates of the impacts of “Universal Free Meals” (UFM) on test scores in English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics, and participation in school lunch.students, the present paper demonstrates that these graduation benefits do not come at the cost of higher expenditures per graduate...

Retention Heterogeneity in New York City Schools
November 1, 2016
Douglas Almond, Ajin Lee, Amy Ellen Schwartz

Performance on proficiency exams can be a key determinant of whether students are retained or "held back" in their grade. In New York City, passing the statewide proficiency exam essentially guarantees promotion, while roughly 13% of those students who fail the exam are retained.

The Behavioral Impacts of Property Tax Relief: Salience or Framing?
December 1, 2015
Phuong Nguyen-Hoang, John Yinger

New York State’s School Tax Relief Program, STAR, provides state-funded exemptions from school property taxes. From 2006-07 to 2008-09, these exemptions were supplemented with rebates, which arrived as a check in the mail. The purpose of this paper is to determine whether these two algebraically equivalent but administratively distinct policies of tax relief led to different behavioral responses.

Still “Saving Babies”? The Impact of Child Medicaid Expansions on High School Completion Rates
June 1, 2015
Lincoln H. Groves

Precipitated by the legislative decision to decouple child Medicaid benefits from welfare receipt, the number of young children qualifying for public health insurance grew markedly throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. From a baseline of roughly 15 percent in the average state at the beginning of the decade, the rate increased to more than 40 percent of all young children in the United States by the time all federal mandates were fully enacted in 1992.

The Relative Costs of New York City’s New Small Public High Schools of Choice
October 1, 2014
Robert Bifulco, Rebecca Unterman, Howard S. Bloom

Building on prior research by two of the present authors, which uses lottery-like features in New York City’s high school admissions process to rigorously demonstrate that new small public high schools in the district are markedly improving graduation prospects for disadvantaged students, the present paper demonstrates that these graduation benefits do not come at the cost of higher expenditures per graduate.

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