A Sampler of Economic Research On Education

October 25, 2000 2 min read

“Do the Cognitive Skills of School Dropouts Matter in the Labor Market?,” John H. Tyler, Richard J. Murnane, and John B. Willett. Journal of Human Resources, Fall 2000. Vol. 35, No. 4: 748-754. The researchers find that in the labor market of the early 1990s, young dropouts could expect higher annual earnings if they had higher levels of basic cognitive skills, regardless of whether they had obtained a high school equivalency credential. (Order from the National Bureau of Economic Research.)

“Teacher Training and Licensure: A Layman’s Guide,” Dale Ballou and Michael Podgursky in Better Teachers, Better Schools, edited by Marci Kanstoroom and Chester E. Finn Jr., Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, 1999. The authors examine regulatory approaches to enhancing teacher quality, and argue for vesting hiring decisions in principals and other local officials, while holding them accountable for student performance.

“Do Better Schools Matter? Parental Evaluation of Elementary Education,” Sandra E. Black. Quarterly Journal of Economics, May 1999. Vol. 114, No. 2: 577-600. Black analyzes test scores and housing prices in suburban Massachusetts school districts, finding that on average parents are willing to pay more for a house within the attendance boundary of a school they perceive as being of higher quality. (Find information on how to order a copy of this paper here.)

“Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions,” Alan B. Krueger. Quarterly Journal of Economics, May 1999. Vol. 114, No. 2: 497-532. Krueger reanalyzes data from a K-3 class-size-reduction experiment in Tennessee and says the original findings were probably right: Students in smaller classes scored higher on standardized tests than students in regular- size classes. (Order from Research Papers in Economics.

“National Voucher Plans in Chile and Sweden: Did Privatization Reforms Make for Better Education?,” Martin Carnoy. Comparative Education Review, August 1998. Vol. 42, No. 3: 309- 337. Carnoy reports that after five years of a nationwide voucher plan, only 1 percent of Swedish students shifted to private schools. While about 25 percent of public school students left for private schools under Chile’s plan, that “competition effect” produced negligible improvement in public education there, he finds. (Order the Comparitive Education Review.)

“Do Curriculum-Based External Exit Exam Systems Enhance Student Achievement?,” John Bishop. Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE). April 1998. No. RR- 040. Bishop uses evidence from three sources, including two international studies of science and mathematics achievement, to conclude that curriculum-based exit examinations significantly raise student achievement but are not the only important determinant of such achievement. (Order from CPRE.)

“Local Property Tax-Based Funding of Public Schools,” Caroline M. Hoxby. May 19, 1997. Heartland Policy Study No. 82. Hoxby uses measures of public support for schools and of school effectiveness to compare New Hampshire with other states, concluding that “the best and most stable” finance method is a system of small districts with most funding derived from local property taxes.