Thursday, November 24, 2011

NYT Gives a Shout-Out to My Research on Inequality

The NYT editorial page cites my research with Martha Bailey on growing gaps in college completion. Unfortunately, they did not link to our paper properly - it's here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thoughtful Discussion of Our Research on Early Interventions and College Outcomes

Tim Bartik, an economist at the UpJohn Institute here in Michigan, has a very thoughtful post about our new paper on the relationship between class size in kindergarten and postsecondary outcomes, which I blogged about earlier this fall. In that paper, we calculate that early interventions are no more effective (dollar-f0r-dollar) than later investments in increasing college attendance.
Bartik reports that our work has generated concern among some advocates of early childhood investments, who worry it undermines support for funding for early interventions. Bartik has a sensible response, which speaks to the complementarity of interventions at different ages. A recommended read.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Student Debt

This short, well-written article puts rising college costs and student debt in perspective. 

College Tuition, Student Loans, and Unemployment : The New Yorker

Friday, November 11, 2011

Using randomized trials to make management decisions

In this piece, Columbia professor Ray Fisman describes how a business uses a randomized trial to determine whether a new personnel policy (allowing employees to work from home) increases productivity and employee satisfaction. Same approach could be taken in a public or non-profit setting to test myriad practices.

Is working from home a good idea? - Slate Magazine

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Learning What Works in Teaching

This is a fabulous article. A successful school leader lays out a roadmap to how schools and academic researchers can combine to use rigorous research methods to learn what works in teaching. A must-read for researchers, school leaders, teachers and those who train teachers.

Studying Teacher Moves : Education Next

Friday, October 28, 2011

Association for Education Finance and Policy, March 15-17 2012, Boston

Please submit a paper, session, or poster! AEFP members and prospective members are invited to submit proposals for the AEFP 37th Annual Conference on March 15-17 2012. Proposals may address any of a broad range of topics in education finance and policy. Open for proposals: 10/1/2011 Close: 11/8/2011 Submission portal:

Monday, October 24, 2011

Early Investments and Adult Outcomes

Along with Josh Hyman (a doctoral student at University of Michigan) and Diane Schanzenbach (economist at Northwestern) I have a new paper on the effect of class size in elementary school on adult educational outcomes (NBER link here; ungated link here). The Economist just blogged about it, which makes my economist heart go pitter-patter!
"This paper examines the effect of early childhood investments on college enrollment and degree completion. We use the random assignment in the Project STAR experiment to estimate the effect of smaller classes in primary school on college entry, college choice, and degree completion. We improve on existing work in this area with unusually detailed data on college enrollment spells and the previously unexplored outcome of college degree completion. We find that assignment to a small class increases the probability of attending college by 2.7 percentage points, with effects more than twice as large among blacks. Among those with the lowest ex ante probability of attending college, the effect is 11 percentage points. Smaller classes increase the likelihood of earning a college degree by 1.6 percentage points and shift students towards high-earning fields such as STEM (science, technology, engineering and medicine), business and economics. We confirm the standard finding that test score effects fade out by middle school, but show that test score effects at the time of the experiment are an excellent predictor of long-term improvements in postsecondary outcomes. We compare the costs and impacts of this intervention with other tools for increasing postsecondary attainment, such as Head Start and financial aid, and conclude that early investments are no more cost effective than later investments in boosting adult educational attainment."
Jan 2012 Update: The BLS Monthly Labor Review also has a nice discussion of the paper.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Saturday, October 1, 2011

File Under Silver Linings

In the recent recession, men's earnings have fallen much more than women's. Since 2007, median male earnings have dropped 6% and median female earnings have dropped 0.9%. As a result, the ratio is at an all-time high: women now make 83¢ for every man's dollar.

NYT: Recession Struck Inadvertent Blow for Women's Equality

Statistical Superheroes!

Very cool use of statistics. Survivors of a sunken battle ship give disparate, 100-mile wide reports of where it sank, and there follow 70 years of unsuccessful searches. Statisticians plot the distribution of reported locations, use theory to determine its central tendency and recommend a small search area. Wreck found. Nerds to the rescue!

Freakonomics: Nazis, Sunken Ships and a 67-year-old Game of Telephone

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Low-Hanging Fruit for the Cranky Analyst: Gross Misinterpretation of Statistics

The National Center for Education Statistics just put out a report on the employment experiences of new teachers. StudentsFirst grabbed the report and wrote a blog about it. They should have slowed down. I suggest that this fine organization hire some UM Ford School grads to help them with their statistical analyses.
The StudentsFirst blog says of the NCES report:
"Teachers making more than $40,000 were 3.7 times more likely to stay in the profession than those making less."
The NCES report says:
"Approximately 93 percent of beginning public school teachers who were earning less than $40,000 in 2008–09 remained teachers in 2009–10, and about 96 percent of beginning public school teachers who were earning $40,000 or more in 2008–09 remained teachers in 2009–10 (table 3). "
Hmmm, is 96% the product of 3.7 and 93%? Let me get my calculator.....(tap, tap, tap). Nope! That would imply that 355% of better-paid teachers stay on the job. There IS about a 3 percentage point difference in the share of low vs. high-earning teachers staying in teaching: 7% of those earning <$40K leave, compared to 4% of those earning >$40K. That's worth writing about!