Education

Converging Evidence for Neighborhood Effects on Children’s Test Scores: An Experimental, Quasi-Experimental, and Observational Comparison

Converging Evidence for Neighborhood Effects on Children’s Test Scores: An Experimental, Quasi-Experimental, and Observational Comparison
Whither Opportunity? Rising Inequality, Schools, and Children’s Life Chances, G. Duncan and R. Murnane, eds. New York: Russell Sage.

Burdick-Will, J., J. Ludwig, S. Raudenbush, R. Sampson, L. Sanbonmatsu, and P. Sharkey
09/01/2011

Rising income inequality has been found to be associated with rising segregation at the neighborhood level, generating concern about whether neighborhood environments themselves may influence children’s life chances, independent of other individual child and family characteristics. Because poor and minority Americans are overrepresented in our most disadvantaged neighborhoods, any “neighborhood effects” on children may contribute to persistent disparities in overall schooling outcomes across race and class lines in the United States.

A large body of nonexperimental research dating back to the Coleman Report in 1966 has produced evidence consistent with the idea of large neighborhood effects on children’s schooling outcomes. However, drawing causal inferences from these studies is complicated by the fact that the attributes of a neighborhood in which a family lives is likely correlated with characteristics of the family that predict schooling outcomes. These studies are therefore vulnerable to selection bias. The one formal randomized experiment in this literature is the five-city Moving to Opportunity (MTO) experiment, data from which suggests no statistically significant impacts, on average, on reading or math test scores for children in MTO measured four to seven years after baseline. How one should weight the findings from the MTO experiment versus the larger body of nonexperimental research remains the topic of ongoing debate within the research and policy communities.

In this chapter, we try to reconcile the experimental, quasi-experimental, and observational research literature regarding neighborhood effects on children, and we argue that the available findings are more convergent than many people believe. Drawing on a number of recent and unusually high-quality quasi-experimental and observational studies, together with a reexamination of MTO findings across the individual MTO demonstration sites, we believe that the available - 3 - evidence allows us to reject the null hypothesis that neighborhood environments never matter for children’s outcomes. Yet at the same time, the data also do not support the hypothesis that neighborhoods always matter.

In our view, the key question for research and public policy is to learn more about the conditions under which neighborhoods matter for children’s academic outcomes and why. Our ability to answer this question in the present chapter is restricted by the limited number of studies that have employed sufficiently strong research designs to support inferences about neighborhood effects on children’s outcomes, and by the fact that a disproportionate share of the studies that meet this research-design threshold have been carried out in a single city (Chicago).

With these important qualifications in mind, we believe that there is at least a suggestive case to be made that children’s test scores may be most strongly affected by community violence or may respond nonlinearly to concentrated neighborhood disadvantage or community violence. Put differently, what may matter most for children’s cognitive development is to avoid living in the most severely economically distressed or dangerous neighborhoods in the country, neighborhoods that are found in cities like Baltimore and Chicago but, surprisingly, are less prevalent even in other major urban areas such as Boston, Los Angeles, and New York. Given the limitations of the available evidence, we offer these as hypotheses to be tested further rather than as strong conclusions.

Geographic Variations in Health Care Workforce Training in the US: The Case of Registered Nurses (RNs)

Geographic Variations in Health Care Workforce Training in the US: The Case of Registered Nurses (RNs)
Med Care. 2011 Aug;49(8):769-74.

Blustein, Jan.
08/01/2011

Background: In the United States, registered nurses [RNs] are trained through one of three educational pathways: a diploma course; an associate's degree, or a baccalaureate degree in nursing (the BSN). A national consensus has emerged that the proportion of RNs that are baccalaureate-trained should be substantially increased. Yet achieving that goal may be difficult in areas where college graduates are unlikely to reside.


Objectives: To determine whether the level of training of the hospital registered nurse [RN] workforce varies geographically, along with the education of the local general workforce.


Research design: Cross sectional, ecological study.


Subjects: Hospital nurses who participated in the National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses [NSSRN] in 2004 (n = 16,567).


Measures. Registered Nurse training was measured as Diploma, Associates degree, or Baccalaureate degree or above. County-level general workforce quality was assessed as the adult college graduation rate. Counties were divided into US population quartiles, with the highest quartile (Q4) having more than 29.3% college graduates, and the lowest quartile (Q1) having fewer than 16.93% college graduates.


Results: Hospital RNs have a higher level of training in counties where the general population is better
educated. For example, in Q4, 55.2% of hospital RNs are baccalaureate-trained, in Q3, 50.2%; in Q2,45.2%; and in Q1, 34.9% (p < .001 for all pairwise comparisons). The association between RN training and general workforce education is found in cities, towns and rural areas.

Conclusions: Nationwide, there are substantial geographic variations in the training of hospital RNs. Educational segregation (the tendency for educated people to cluster geographically) may make it more difficult to achieve a BSN-rich nursing workforce in some areas of the US. Further work is needed to assess whether educational segregation similarly influences the distribution of other health care professionals, and whether it leads to variations in the local quality of care.

Does Losing Your Home Mean Losing Your School? Effects of Foreclosure on the School Mobility of Children

Does Losing Your Home Mean Losing Your School? Effects of Foreclosure on the School Mobility of Children
Regional Science and Urban Economics, 41(4), 2011: 407-414.

Bean, Vicky, Ingrid Ellen, Amy Ellen Schwartz, Leanna Stiefel and Meryle Weinstein
02/01/2011

In the last few years, millions of homes around the country have entered foreclosure, pushing many families out of their homes and potentially forcing their children to move to new schools. Unfortunately, despite considerable attention to the causes and consequences of mortgage defaults, we understand little about the distribution and severity of these impacts on school children. This paper takes a step toward filling that gap through studying how foreclosures in New York City affect the mobility of public school children across schools. A significant body of research suggests that, in general, switching schools is costly for students, though the magnitude of the effect depends critically on the nature of the move and the quality of the origin and destination schools.

Does Municipally Subsidized Housing Improve School Quality? Evidence from New York City

Does Municipally Subsidized Housing Improve School Quality? Evidence from New York City
Journal of the American Planning Association, 77 (2): 127-141.

Chellman, Colin, Ingrid Ellen, Brian McCabe, Amy Ellen Schwartz and Leanna Stiefel
01/01/2011

Problem: Policymakers and community development practitioners view increasing subsidized owner-occupied housing as a mechanism to improve urban neighborhoods, but little research studies the impact of such investments on community amenities.

Purpose: We examine the impact of subsidized owner-occupied housing on the quality of local schools and compare them to the impacts of city investments in rental units.

Methods: Using data from the New York City Department of Education (DOE) and the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), we estimate three main sets of regressions, exploring student characteristics, school resources, and school outcomes.

Results and conclusions: The completion of subsidized owner-occupied housing is associated with a decrease in schools’ percentage of free-lunch eligible students, an increase in schools’ percentage of White students, and, controlling for these compositional changes, an increase in scores on standardized reading and math exams. By contrast, our results suggest that investments in rental housing have little, if any, effect.

Takeaway for practice: Policies promoting the construction of subsidized owner-occupied housing have solidified in local governments around the country. Our research provides reassurance to policymakers and planners who are concerned about the spillover effects of subsidized, citywide investments beyond the households being directly served. It suggests that benefits from investments in owner occupancy may extend beyond the individual level, with an increase in subsidized owner-occupancy bringing about improvements in neighborhood school quality.

School Cost Accounting: What Do We Know and How Do We Get There?

School Cost Accounting: What Do We Know and How Do We Get There?
Public Performance & Management Review, 35 (1): 29-53.

Denison, Dwight, William Hartman, Leanna Stiefel and Michele Deegan
01/01/2011

This paper describes a model for assessing and reporting schoollevel resources. State and local decision-makers have been seeking ways to obtain such information for more than a decade, but there is as yet no easy, accessible way to do so and no way to satisfy both internal and external users of the information. The model, based on case studies in Pennsylvania (with successful replication in New York), resolves many of the issues. The seven principles that guide the model are explained, challenges in developing school-level reports are generalized, and resolutions to the challenges in three states are compared. The conclusion draws out implications for the future of regularly collected school resource data.

The Effect of Immigrant Communities on Foreign-Born Student Achievement

The Effect of Immigrant Communities on Foreign-Born Student Achievement
International Migration Review, 45(3):675-701

Conger, Dylan, Leanna Stiefel, and Amy Ellen Schwartz
01/01/2011

This paper explores the effect of the human capital characteristics of co-ethnic immigrant communities on foreign-born students’ math achievement. We use data on New York City public school foreign-born students from 39 countries merged with census data on the characteristics of the immigrant household heads in the city from each nation of origin and estimate regressions of student achievement on co-ethnic immigrant community characteristics, controlling for student and school attributes. We find that the income and size of the co-ethnic immigrant community has no effect on immigrant student achievement, while the percent of college graduates may have a small positive effect. In addition, children in highly English proficient immigrant communities test slightly lower than children from less proficient communities. The results suggest that there may be some protective factors associated with immigrant community members’ education levels and use of native languages.

The Path Not Taken: How Does School Organization Affect 8th Grade Achievement?

The Path Not Taken: How Does School Organization Affect 8th Grade Achievement?
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 33 (3): 293-317

Schwartz, Amy Ellen, Leanna Stiefel, Ross Rubenstein, and Jeffrey Zabel
01/01/2011

Although rearranging school organizational features is a popular school reform, little research exists to inform policymakers about how grade spans affect achievement. This article examines how grade spans and the school transitions that students make between fourth and eighth grade shape student performance in eighth grade. The authors estimate the impact of grade span paths on eighth grade performance, controlling for school and student characteristics and correcting for attrition bias and quality of original school. They find that students moving from K-4 to 5-8 schools outperform students on other paths. Results suggest four possible explanations for the findings- the number and timing of school changes, the size of within-school cohorts, and the stability of peer cohorts.

What Do AEFA Members Say? Summary of Results of an Education Finance and Policy Survey

What Do AEFA Members Say? Summary of Results of an Education Finance and Policy Survey
Education Finance and Policy, 6 (2): 267-292

Stiefel, Amy Ellen Schwartz and Anne Rotenberg
01/01/2011

In the spring of 2008 the authors surveyed members of the American Education Finance Association (AEFA) to gain insight into their views on education policy issues. The results summarize opinions of this broad group of education researchers and practitioners, providing AEFA members and education leaders with access to views that may be helpful as they consider policies to analyze or pursue. This article reports the results in six areas of current policy interest. How should education aid be distributed? Is school choice a good thing? Does school finance reform work? What has accountability wrought? Can school policies close the black-white achievement gap? And how should teachers be compensated? Our findings identify areas of substantial agreement as well as areas where there is disagreement. For example, there is considerable agreement that state and federal governments should provide additional funding for disadvantaged students but disagreement on how to measure school finance adequacy.

Pages

Subscribe to Education