Working Papers, Policy Briefs & Reports

Politics and Children’s Books: Evidence from School Library Collections

Authors: Kirsten Slungaard Mumma Project Summary This study begins by compiling a novel data set on the books in over 6,000 school libraries across the country. With this unique look inside school library shelves, the author then details some trends and themes related to the collections based on various characteristics, including for instance difference across high and low-income schools and the political leanings of surrounding areas. Key Findings Schools with more white students, schools...

Enrollment Flexibility and Charter School Impacts: The Effect of Backfill on Students in Massachusetts Charter Middle Schools

Authors: Marcus A. Winters, Boston University, Cheonghum Park, Korea Institute of Public Finance Project Summary This study leverages Massachusetts's adoption of a statewide requirement for charter schools to backfill vacancies within some grades to provide the first causal estimates for the effect of incorporating new students on the performance of incumbent charter school pupils. Using data from the universe of Massachusetts public school students enrolled in Grades 5 through 8 from...

Ability Signals and Rigorous Coursework: Evidence from AP Calculus Participation

Authors: Christopher Avery, Harvard University, Joshua Goodman, Boston University Project Summary This study examines how one signal of ability—whether a student achieves “Advanced” status on Massachusetts’ 10th grade statewide standardized assessment—effects subsequent enrollment in Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus courses. The findings suggest that ability signals can positively influence choices around student enrollment, either by changing students’ and families’ course choices or by...

Using Classroom Observations in the Evaluation of Special Education Teachers

Authors: Nathan D. Jones, Courtney A. Bell, Mary Brownell, Yi Qi, David Peyton, Daisy Pua, Melissa Fowler, Steven Holtzman Project Summary While teacher evaluation systems and policies have evolved nationwide during the past decade, the use of structured classroom observation tools remains nearly universal. This paper examines one of the most popular observation systems in the country—Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching (FFT)—and asks the question: “How well do common observation...

COVID-19 and the Composition of the Massachusetts Teacher Workforce

Authors: Andrew Bacher-Hicks, Olivia Chi, and Alexis Orellana Project Summary The COVID-19 crisis has created unprecedented disruption for school systems, educators, and the students they serve. The pandemic-related challenges and connected policy responses have the potential to alter the supply of and demand for teachers, both in the short and long-term. The following analyses examine the extent to which the composition of the teacher workforce changed in Massachusetts during various stages...

The Pandemic’s Effect on Demand for Public Schools, Homeschooling, and Private Schools

Authors: Tareena Musaddiq, Kevin Stange, Andrew Bacher-Hicks, & Joshua Goodman This reflects joint work with colleagues at the Education Policy Initiative at the University of Michigan's Ford School of Public Policy. Additional information on their website here.  Project Summary The COVID-19 pandemic drastically disrupted the functioning of U.S. public schools, potentially changing the relative appeal of alternatives such as homeschooling and private schools. Using student-level...

Teacher Time Use and Affect During COVID-19

Authors: Nathan Jones, Eric Camburn, Ben Kelcey, & Esther Quintero This research was supported in part by a grant from the Institute of Education Sciences. Project Summary In the spring of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic led to a shutdown of school buildings across the United States and a subsequent unplanned nationwide transition to remote learning. For teachers, these school building closures resulted in a transformation of many facets of their work, requiring them to take on new and often...

The COVID-19 Pandemic Disrupted Both School Bullying and Cyberbullying

Author: Andrew Bacher-Hicks, Joshua Goodman, Jennifer Greif Green, Melissa K. Holt Project Summary School bullying is widespread and has substantial social costs. One in five U.S. high school students report being bullied each school year and these students face greater risks of serious mental health chal-lenges that extend into adulthood. As the COVID-19 pandemic forced most students into online education, many have worried that cyberbullying prevalence would grow dramatically. We use data...

The School to Prison Pipeline: Long-Run Impacts of School Suspensions on Adult Crime

Author: Andrew Bacher-Hicks, Stephen B. Billings, & David J. Deming Project Summary When faced with behavioral infractions, schools often turn to suspensions or other forms of exclusionary discipline as a means of managing student behavior and restoring a productive classroom learning environment. This paper estimates the net impact of school discipline on student achievement, educational attainment and future involvement with the criminal justice system. Using variation in school...

The Effect of Charter Schooling on Student Mobility and Classification Status

Authors: Allison Gilmour, Colin Shanks, & Marcus A. Winters Project SummaryThe characteristics of students enrolled in charter schools often differ from those of surrounding traditional public schools. Anecdotes of charter schools inappropriately discouraging unwanted students from applying (“cream skimming”) or encouraging struggling students to leave for a different school (“pushing out”) have led to the concern that such “enrollment gaps” are caused by charter schools systematically...