GWIPP Research: Education Policy
Title: Private Two-Year Colleges and Their Students: Pathways, Returns, and Policy
Funding: Ford Foundation
Researcher(s): Stephanie Cellini
Start Date: March 2009
Category: Education Policy
Title: The Cumulative Effect of the PreK-3rd Education Experience on English Language Learners
Funding: Foundation for Child Development
Researcher(s): Dylan Conger
Start Date: November 2008
Summary: The primary goal of this study is to understand how the cumulative primary school experience influences the academic proficiency of English Language Learners (ELL) in the Miami-Dade County Public School System. By primary school experience, we refer to the amount and type of services that students receive in the PreK-8th grades from the public school system, including their grade upon entry into the system (with specific attention to the PreK and K entry points); the characteristics of the schools, teachers, and peers to which they are exposed; and the types of English language instruction services they receive.
Title: Developing a Semiotic Framework for How People Learn Science Across Contexts
Funding: SRI International
Researcher(s): Joel Kuipers
Start Date: September 2008
Category: Education Policy
Recent results from standardized assessments indicate that science is one of the most challenging subjects for students and that American students are falling behind their peers in other developed nations (National Assessment of Educational Progress, 2005; National Center for Education Statistics, 2000; Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, 2007). Moreover, these reports indicate that American students’ achievement in science has not improved in the last three decades.
While achievement scores provide an indication of students’ overall understanding of science, we have less detailed information about student learning science in and across formal and informal settings (but cf. Linn, Bell, & Hsi, 1998). We adopt an ethnographic perspective that treats the process of learning as distinct from individual moments of cognition, taking place within and across many events, and over time (Wortham, 2006). Yet the question remains how may one document empirically students’ learning behaviors over time? How can one capture and analyze the vast amount of data needed to examine a phenomenon that takes place both within and across time scales? It is with these questions in mind that this project was designed. It proposes development of a theoretical framework for analyzing learning behaviors within and across contexts, as well as a technical toolbox for handling the amount of data needed to examine student learning over time.
Title: The Implications of High School Course Availability and Course-Taking for
Achievement, Graduation, and Post-secondary Enrollment
Funding: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences
Researcher(s): Dylan Conger, Patrice Iatarola (Florida State University), and Mark Long (University of Washington)
Start Date: July 2007
Category: Education Policy
Summary: Responding to increases in the demand for skilled labor, persistent racial and income gaps in academic outcomes, and the higher relative performance of secondary students from other developed countries, U.S. policymakers and educators have turned their attention, once again, towards high school curriculum. To inform this effort, our study identifies the determinants of course-offerings across schools and course-taking within schools, and the effects of course-taking on outcomes at multiple stages of the students' high school and post-secondary careers. We seek primarily to estimate: 1) the share of socioeconomic and demographic disparities in course-taking that can be attributed to variation across schools in their course offerings versus variation in course-taking among students within schools; and 2) the share of socioeconomic and demographic disparities in 10th grade test scores, four-year graduation rates, and enrollment rates in post-secondary institutions that can be attributed to differential returns to course-taking, differential course-taking within schools, and differential course offerings across schools. The research relies on administrative data from the Florida Department of Education on the census of 8th through 12th grade public school students (and their schools) from 1998 to 2005.
Title: School Finance Referenda and Housing Values
Funding: National Center for Real Estate Research
Researcher(s): Garry Young
Start Date: January 2007
Summary: Housing values are influenced by a variety of factors. There is substantial and well-established literature that suggests that housing and property values are a function of the physical characteristics of the house and the land on which it sits, proximity to amenities and disamenities, the level and quality of local government services provided, and the level of property taxes collected to pay for these services. Within the context of government service provision and financing, local school quality and cost play a particularly important role in affecting house prices.
A critical component to educational finance in the United States is the requirement that school-related financial arrangements must receive direct voter approval in most school districts. The referendum requirement applies most commonly to the sale of bonds for capital improvements, but extends well beyond bond issues. The results of school referenda have major consequences for housing values in school districts, since both taxes and school quality are substantially capitalized into property values. Yet, we know little about the outcomes and outcome trends of school finance referenda and we have little systematic evidence about the relationship between these referenda outcomes and housing values. The purpose of this project is to gather data on school finance referenda across the states going back to 1995 and then study the relationship between referenda outcomes and housing values.