Job Market Paper
“The Effect of Releasing Teacher Performance Information to Schools: Teachers’ Response and Student Achievement” (Under Review)
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This paper examines the effects of releasing teacher value-added (VA) information on student performance in two settings; in the first, VA data was released to all potential employers within the district, while in the second, only the current employer received the data. I find that student achievement increased only in the district where the VA scores were provided to all potential employers. These effects were driven solely by improved performance among ex-ante less-effective teachers; the null effects in the other setting, however, were driven by moderate declines in performance among ex-ante highly-effective teachers and small improvements among less-effective teachers. These results highlight the importance of understanding how the design features of VA disclosure translate into the productivity of teachers.
“The Role of Credible Threats and School Competition within School Accountability Systems: Evidence from NCLB Waiver” [Download]
This paper evaluates the impact of receiving accountability labels on the student achievement distribution under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waivers. Using a sharp regression discontinuity (RD) design, I examine the achievement effects of Priority (schools with the lowest performance) and Focus (schools with the largest achievement gaps) labels and find that schools receiving the Focus label improved the performance of low-achieving students relative to their barely non-Focus counterparts, and they did so without hurting high-achieving students. The positive achievement effects for Focus schools were entirely driven by Title 1 Focus schools that faced financial sanctions associated with being labeled the following year. There is no evidence of an achievement effect associated with the Priority label. Next, I examine heterogeneous effects by looking at the number of alternative nearby schooling options. I find that when schools are exposed to a competitive choice environment, receiving the Focus label increased math test scores across the scoring distribution, while schools located in an uncompetitive choice environment improved the test scores of low achievers only. This evidence may suggest the importance of incorporating credible sanctions and school choice options into the school accountability system to maximize the effectiveness of the system on student achievement.
“Heterogeneous Treatment Effects of the Mindset Interventions: Evidence from The Spartan Persistence Project” with John Yun, Barbara Schneider, and Soobin Kim
This paper examines the heterogeneous treatment effects of the mindset interventions that have been targeted at all incoming students at Michigan State University. As prior studies report that the light touch interventions that attempt to help students develop adaptive mindsets would be substantial for students who have weak academic backgrounds, we hypothesize the positive treatment effects for students who are at risk of failing in college. To test this hypothesis, we incorporate data regarding students’ high school and neighborhood characteristics from various sources. We show that incorporating various school and neighborhood characteristics and using Machine Learning algorithm reduce the prediction errors of the first-semester GPA by twenty percent compared to the regression model that includes conventional control variables used by researchers. By stratifying students based on the predicted GPA, we find that the mindset intervention is only effective for students whose predicted GPA is in the bottom quintile.