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Reduced-Class Distinctions: Effort, Ability, and the Education Production Function

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  • Philip Babcock
  • Julian R. Betts

Abstract

Do smaller classes boost achievement mainly by helping teachers impart specific academic skills to students with low academic achievement? Or do they do so primarily by helping teachers engage poorly behaving students? The analysis uses the grade 3 to 4 transition in San Diego Unified School District as a source of exogenous variation in class size (given a California law funding small classes until grade 3). Grade 1 report cards allow separate identification of low-effort and low-achieving students. Results indicate that elicitation of effort or engagement, rather than the teaching of specific skills, may be the dominant channel by which small classes influence disadvantaged students.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14777.

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Date of creation: Mar 2009
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Publication status: published as Babcock, Philip & Betts, Julian R., 2009. "Reduced-class distinctions: Effort, ability, and the education production function," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 314-322, May.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14777

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  1. repec:fth:prinin:427 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Yoram Ben-Porath, 1967. "The Production of Human Capital and the Life Cycle of Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 352.
  3. James Heckman & Pedro Carneiro, 2003. "Human Capital Policy," NBER Working Papers 9495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Edward P. Lazear, 1999. "Educational Production," NBER Working Papers 7349, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Alan B. Krueger, 1997. "Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions," NBER Working Papers 6051, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Joshua Angrist & Alan Krueger, 1998. "Empirical Strategies in Labor Economics," Working Papers 780, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  7. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2002. "Identity and Schooling: Some Lessons for the Economics of Education," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1167-1201, December.
  8. Melissa Osborne & Herbert Gintis & Samuel Bowles, 2001. "The Determinants of Earnings: A Behavioral Approach," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1137-1176, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Coupe, Tom & Olefir, Anna & Alonso, Juan Diego, 2011. "Is optimization an opportunity ? an assessment of the impact of class size and school size on the performance of Ukrainian secondary schools," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5879, The World Bank.
  2. Mark Hoekstra, 2010. "Are School Counselors a Cost-Effective Education Input?," Working Papers 396, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2011.

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