Conditions of Education in California

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - 8:31am

The recent increase in California’s school starting age has implications not only for short-term academic achievement, but also for longer-term outcomes. A new study finds that an individual’s exposure to a higher school starting age leads to a lower likelihood of incarceration in adulthood. The reduction appears to stem from the benefits associated with an older average cohort, which accrue both to those who delayed their entry as well as those who did not. The overall decline in incarceration masks the fact that individuals who had to delay their school entry by a year were harmed by the delay itself (that is, the reduction is smaller than it otherwise would have been).

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - 7:50am

The increasing demand for a STEM workforce and the insufficient supply produced by American educational institutions has led many researchers and policy analysts to focus on the shortage of women in these important fields. The pre-college setting is highly influential on students’ choice of college major and the majority of the students who concentrate in STEM make that choice during high school. Using longitudinal data from students who spent their academic careers in North Carolina public secondary schools and attended North Carolina public universities, this study finds that female high school STEM teachers are key to girls’ decisions to major in STEM. Larger shares of female HS STEM teachers raise girls’ odds of majoring in STEM, while boys’ odds are unaffected.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015 - 8:57am

Enrichment programs in K-12 schools, such as the arts, are frequently cut to drive student performance in language arts and mathematics—the focal points of most standardized exams. However, a recent study suggests that high quality arts integration can positively influence student academic achievement. In a longitudinal study of an intensive multi-art integration model implemented in public elementary schools within the Los Angeles Unified School District, consistent and significant gains were observed in student proficiency on standardized tests of English Language Arts when compared to matched comparison sites with standalone arts programming.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015 - 8:13am

Few analyses have looked at how increasing walking and cycling can reduce student transportation costs for school districts and families. Using case studies and school bus routing simulations, researchers show that it may be more cost-effective to make engineering improvements to remove hazardous conditions rather than continuing to pay for busing in perpetuity.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015 - 8:38am

Recent research finds that students who participate in high school arts courses face a lower risk of dropping out compared to similar students who do not participate. While a causal relationship is difficult to isolate, policymakers should be cautious about the ramifications of cutting arts budgets in public schools.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 - 8:37am

In recent years, there has been increasing attention towards language variety as a potential explanation for lagging achievement observed among minority students and students of low socioeconomic status. A recent study summarizes recommendations for an administrative and legislative response to the educational needs of students who speak language varieties other than standard English.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015 - 8:11am

Conventional wisdom suggests that No Child Left Behind has increased teacher stress and undermined their feelings about the teaching profession. An analysis of four waves of nationally representative teacher survey data suggests, however, that NCLB has had little effect on attitudes such as job satisfaction and commitment to remain in teaching.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015 - 8:31am

Studies on the returns to teaching experience find that, on average, teachers make rapid gains in effectiveness early in their careers, but that additional experience is associated with more modest improvements. Research from North Carolina shows there is a large amount of variation in how quickly different teachers improve and teachers who work in more supportive environments improve at much greater rates than their peers in less supportive schools.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015 - 9:40am

The vast majority of research in the area of high school dropout prevention has been focused on either identifying risk factors for students likely to dropout or intensive individual student interventions. Researchers have suggested that school-wide tiered interventions may increase a school’s capacity to address intensive student needs. However, as this review shows, the current body of empirical research provides little guidance to schools or policy makers with respect to addressing student needs more effectively and efficiently.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015 - 8:52am

Since the mid-1980s, policymakers have heralded mid-career entrants—teachers who enter the profession from careers outside of education—as having the potential to help avert national teacher shortages, increase the racial and ethnic diversity of the teaching force, and fill vacancies in hard-to-staff subjects, like secondary mathematics and science. Using six waves of data from the Schools and Staffing Survey and an innovative methodology, we find that the percentage of mid-career entrants among first-year teachers nearly doubled between 1988-2008 and that mid-career entrants comprise more than one-third of incoming public school teachers. Despite this influx, mid-career entrants have not substantially diversified the teaching workforce.

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