Does Small High School Reform Lift Urban Districts? Evidence From New York City

Does Small High School Reform Lift Urban Districts? Evidence From New York City
Educational Researcher, Vol. XX No. X, pp. 1–12. DOI: 10.3102/0013189X15579187

Leanna Stiefel, Amy Ellen Schwartz, and Matthew Wiswall

Research finds that small high schools deliver better outcomes than large high schools for urban students. An important outstanding question is whether this better performance is gained at the expense of losses elsewhere: Does small school reform lift the whole district? We explore New York City’s small high school reform in which hundreds of new small high schools were built in less than a decade. We use rich individual student data on four cohorts of New York City high school students and estimate effects of schools on student outcomes. Our results suggest that the introduction of small schools improved outcomes for students in all types of schools: large, small, continuously operating, and new. Small school reform lifted all boats.

Is neighbourhood destiny? Exploring the link between neighbourhood mobility and student outcomes

Is neighbourhood destiny? Exploring the link between neighbourhood mobility and student outcomes
Urban Studies. January 8, 2015. doi: 10.1177/0042098014563469

Sarah Cordes, Amy Ellen Schwartz, Leanna Stiefel and Jeffrey Zabel

The notion that children from ‘good’ neighbourhoods are destined for success while those from ‘bad’ neighbourhoods are destined for failure has considerable popular appeal. Residential location is strongly linked to school quality, access to educated adults, exposure to violence, etc. There is, however, surprisingly little evidence on the link between the neighbourhood in which a child begins school and later schooling outcomes. Understanding early neighbourhood experiences is important for determining whether students are ‘stuck’ in neighbourhoods of disadvantage. It is also critical for determining the extent to which students who begin their schooling careers in disadvantaged neighbourhoods are destined for poor schooling outcomes, and conversely, whether changing neighbourhood context improves student performance. In this study, therefore, we document how students’ early neighbourhood and schooling experiences are related to later success in school, and explore how changing neighbourhood and school contexts explain differences in academic outcomes. Using data from New York City (NYC), we construct a panel containing all students enrolled as first graders in NYC public schools in 1996–1997, following them through academic years 2007–2008, which would be their 12th grade year if they made standard academic progress (annual one-grade promotion). Far from supporting the simplistic story of ‘dead-end’ neighbourhoods, our analyses describe a situation where students from poor neighbourhoods actually move more often than their peers in less disadvantaged neighbourhoods and are more likely to experience changes in neighbourhood and school quality, with 45.7% of neighbourhood moves from the poorest neighbourhoods being made to significantly higher quality neighbourhoods.

A Water Availability Intervention in NYC Public Schools: Influence on Youth Water and Milk Behaviors.

A Water Availability Intervention in NYC Public Schools: Influence on Youth Water and Milk Behaviors.
American Journal of Public Health. 105(2): 365-372.

Elbel B, Mijanovich T, Abrams C, Cantor J, Dunn L, Nonas C, Cappola K, Onufrak S, Park S.

Objectives. We determined the influence of “water jets” on observed water and milk taking and self-reported fluid consumption in New York City public schools.

Methods. From 2010 to 2011, before and 3 months after water jet installation in 9 schools, we observed water and milk taking in cafeterias (mean 1000 students per school) and surveyed students in grades 5, 8, and 11 (n = 2899) in the 9 schools that received water jets and 10 schools that did not. We performed an observation 1 year after implementation (2011–2012) with a subset of schools. We also interviewed cafeteria workers regarding the intervention.

Results. Three months after implementation we observed a 3-fold increase in water taking (increase of 21.63 events per 100 students; P < .001) and a much smaller decline in milk taking (-6.73 events per 100 students; P = .012), relative to comparison schools. At 1 year, relative to baseline, there was a similar increase in water taking and no decrease in milk taking. Cafeteria workers reported that the water jets were simple to clean and operate.

Conclusions. An environmental intervention in New York City public schools increased water taking and was simple to implement. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print December 18, 2014: e1–e8. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.302221)

Measuring School Finance Equity using School Finance Statistics

Measuring School Finance Equity using School Finance Statistics
Encyclopedia of Education Economics and Finance, editors Dominic Brewer and Lawrence Picus, Sage, CA

Leanna Stiefel

This entry briefly outlines the origin of school finance statistics and describes the Berne-Stiefel framework for identifying the values of school finance equity.  It then introduces various measures of horizontal, vertical, and taxpayer equity and concludes by highlighting school finance research that utilizes these measures.

Connecting the Dots: Interprofessional Health Education and Delivery System Redesign at the Veterans Health Administration

Connecting the Dots: Interprofessional Health Education and Delivery System Redesign at the Veterans Health Administration
Academic Medicine, Vol. 89, no. 8, pp. 1113-1116. DOI: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000312

Gilman, S.C., D. Chokshi, J.L. Bowen, K.W. Rugen, and M. Cox

Health systems around the United States are embracing new models of primary care using interprofessional team-based approaches in pursuit of better patient outcomes, higher levels of satisfaction among patients and providers, and improved overall value. Less often discussed are the implications of new models of care for health professions education, including education for physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other professions engaged in primary care. Described here is the interaction between care transformation and redesign of health professions education at the largest integrated delivery system in the United States: the Veterans Health Administration (VA). Challenges and lessons learned are discussed in the context of a demonstration initiative, the VA Centers of Excellence in Primary Care Education. Five sites, involving VA medical centers and their academic affiliates in Boise, Cleveland, San Francisco, Seattle, and West Haven, introduced interprofessional primary care curricula for resident physicians and nurse practitioner students beginning in 2011. Implementation struggles largely revolved around the operational logistics and cultural disruption of integrating educational redesign for medicine and nursing and facilitating the interface between educational and clinical activities. To realize new models for interprofessional teaching, faculty, staff, and trainees must understand the histories, traditions, and program requirements across professions and experiment with new approaches to achieving a common goal. Key recommendations for redesign of health professions education revolve around strengthening the union between interprofessional learning, team-based practice, and high-value care.

Where, When, Why, and For Whom Do Residential Contexts Matter? Moving Away from the Dichotomous Understanding of Neighborhood Effects

Where, When, Why, and For Whom Do Residential Contexts Matter? Moving Away from the Dichotomous Understanding of Neighborhood Effects
Annual Review of Sociology. 2014. 40:559–79. 10.1146/annurev-soc-071913-043350

Sharkey, P., and J. Faber

The literature on neighborhood effect frequently is evaluated or interpreted in relation to the question, "Do neighborhoods matter?" We argue that this question has had a disproportionate influence on the field and does not align with the complexity of theoretical models of neighborhood effects or empirical findings that have arisen from the literature. In this article, we focus on empirical work that considers how different dimensions of individuals' residential contexts become salient in their lives, how contexts influence individuals' lives over different timeframes, how individuals are affected by social processes operating at different scales, and how residential contexts influence the lives of individuals in heterogeneous ways. In other words, we review research that examines where, when, why, and for whom do residential contexts matter. Using the large literature on neighborhoods and educational and cognitive outcomes as an example, the research we review suggests that any attempt to reduce the literature to a single answer about whether neighborhoods matter is misguided. We call for a more flexible study of context effects in which theory, measurement, and methods are more closely aligned with the specific mechanisms and social processes under study.

Population Health and the Academic Medical Center: The Time Is Right

Population Health and the Academic Medical Center: The Time Is Right
Academic Medicine, Vol. 89, no. 4, pp. 544-549. DOI: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000171

Gourevitch, M.N.

Optimizing the health of populations, whether defined as persons receiving care from a health care delivery system or more broadly as persons in a region, is emerging as a core focus in the era of health care reform. To achieve this goal requires an approach in which preventive care is valued and “nonmedical” determinants of patients’ health are engaged. For large, multimission systems such as academic medical centers, navigating the evolution to a population-oriented paradigm across the domains of patient care, education, and research poses real challenges but also offers tremendous opportunities, as important objectives across each mission begin to align with external trends and incentives. In clinical care, opportunities exist to improve capacity for assuming risk, optimize community benefit, and make innovative use of advances in health information technology. Education must equip the next generation of leaders to understand and address population-level goals in addition to patient-level needs. And the prospects for research to define strategies for measuring and optimizing the health of populations have never been stronger. A remarkable convergence of trends has created compelling opportunities for academic medical centers to advance their core goals by endorsing and committing to advancing the health of populations.

Do Housing Choice Voucher Holders Live Near Good Schools

Do Housing Choice Voucher Holders Live Near Good Schools
Journal of Housing Economics 23(1), 2014: 28-40.

Ingrid Gould Ellen, Amy Ellen Schwartz, and Keren Horn

The Housing Choice Voucher program was created, in part, to help low income households reach a broader range of neighborhoods and schools. Rather than concentrating low income households in designated developments, vouchers allow families to choose their housing units and neighborhoods. In this project we explore whether low income households use the flexibility provided by vouchers to reach neighborhoods with high performing schools. Unlike previous experimental work, which has focused on a small sample of voucher holders constrained to live in low-poverty neighborhoods, we look at the voucher population as a whole and explore the broad range of neighborhoods in which they live. Relying on internal data from HUD on the location of assisted households, we link each voucher holder in the country to the closest elementary school within their school district. We compare the characteristics of the schools that voucher holders are likely to attend to the characteristics of those accessible to other households receiving place based housing subsidies, other similar unsubsidized households and fair market rent units within the same state and metropolitan area. These comparisons provide us with a portrait of the schools that children might have attended absent HUD assistance. In comparison to other poor households in the same metropolitan areas, we find that the schools near voucher holders have lower performing students than the schools near other poor households without a housing subsidy. We probe this surprising finding by exploring whether differences between the demographic characteristics of voucher holders and other poor households explain the differences in the characteristics of nearby schools, and whether school characteristics vary with length of time in the voucher program. We also examine variation across metropolitan areas in the relative quality of schools near to voucher holders and whether this variation is explained by economic, socio-demographic or policy differences across cities.


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