Equalizing Educational Opportunity 

 

Disparities in student opportunities and outcomes from kindergarten through higher education are shaped by a complex set of school, community, governance, and non-education sector factors. WEPC researchers evaluate the impact of policies and practices both within and outside of schools on student educational and life outcomes. 

 

 

Female students performing an experiment in a classroom

Latest Projects

Who Benefits from Remote Schooling?

Who Benefits from Remote Schooling?

Authors: Jesse Bruhn, Christopher Campos, Eric Chyn  Project Summary At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, school districts around the country quickly transitioned to providing full- or part-time remote learning options for students who had otherwise been attending school completely in person. These unusual and unprecedented circumstances meant that families suddenly had an opportunity to assess the suitability of remote learning for their children over an extended time. Although there is...

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The Stickiness of Pandemic-Driven Disenrollment from Public Schools

The Stickiness of Pandemic-Driven Disenrollment from Public Schools

Authors: Andrew Bacher-Hicks, Tareena Musaddiq, Joshua Goodman, & Kevin Stange This reflects joint work with colleagues at the Education Policy Initiative at the University of Michigan's Ford School of Public Policy. Project Summary This study builds upon the authors’ prior research on enrollment shifts across school sectors during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic and examines whether these patterns persisted into the subsequent school year. The authors use longitudinal...

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The Effect of Retention Under Mississippi’s Test-Based Promotion Policy

The Effect of Retention Under Mississippi’s Test-Based Promotion Policy

Authors: Kirsten Slungaard Mumma and Marcus A Winters Project Summary This study examines the impact of Mississippi’s test-based promotion policy, adopted in 2013 as part of a comprehensive statewide effort to improve early literacy. The authors employ a research design that allows them to estimate the causal impact of third-grade retention under the policy on test scores and non-test-score outcomes in the sixth grade. The findings contribute to our growing knowledge of how elementary-level...

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

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...

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

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Ability Signals and Rigorous Coursework: Evidence from AP Calculus Participation

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...

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

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...

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The COVID-19 Pandemic Disrupted Both School Bullying and Cyberbullying

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...

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

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...

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Inequality in Household Adaptation to Schooling Shocks: COVID-19 Induced Online Learning Engagement in Real Time

Inequality in Household Adaptation to Schooling Shocks: COVID-19 Induced Online Learning Engagement in Real Time

Authors: Andrew Backer-Hicks, Joshua Goodman, & Christine Mulhern Project Summary In March of 2020, COVID-19 disrupted in-person education, causing both students and staff to abruptly switch to online learning models. The shift to virtual learning caused students to become reliant on technology, which raised equity concerns for lower income students who may not have access to a computer, high-speed internet, or parents with the time and training to oversee their learning. Andrew...

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