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Stuck in the middle: Impacts of grade configuration in public schools

  • Rockoff, Jonah E.
  • Lockwood, Benjamin B.
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    We examine the implications of separating students of different grade levels across schools for the purposes of educational production. Specifically, we find that moving students from elementary to middle school in 6th or 7th grade causes significant drops in academic achievement. These effects are large (about 0.15 standard deviations), present for both math and English, and persist through grade 8, the last year for which we have achievement data. The effects are similar for boys and girls, but stronger for students with low levels of initial achievement. We instrument for middle school attendance using the grade range of the school students attended in grade 3, and employ specifications that control for student fixed effects. This leaves only one potential source of bias-correlation between grade range of a student's grade 3 school and unobservable characteristics that cause decreases in achievement precisely when students are due to switch schools-which we view as highly unlikely. We find little evidence that placing public school students into middle schools during adolescence is cost-effective.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6V76-50FY18N-1/2/5272044edb0bba8cbe1668720df7dcd2
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

    Volume (Year): 94 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 11-12 (December)
    Pages: 1051-1061

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:94:y:2010:i:11-12:p:1051-1061
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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    1. Jonah Rockoff & Lesley J. Turner, 2010. "Short-Run Impacts of Accountability on School Quality," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 119-47, November.
    2. Steven G. Rivkin & Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain, 2005. "Teachers, Schools, and Academic Achievement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(2), pages 417-458, 03.
    3. Philip Oreopoulos & Daniel Lang & Joshua Angrist, 2009. "Incentives and Services for College Achievement: Evidence from a Randomized Trial," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 136-63, January.
    4. C. Kirabo Jackson, 2009. "Ability-grouping and Academic Inequality: Evidence From Rule-based Student Assignments," NBER Working Papers 14911, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Justine S. Hastings & Thomas J. Kane & Douglas O. Staiger, 2006. "Gender and Performance: Evidence from School Assignment by Randomized Lottery," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 232-236, May.
    6. Justine S. Hastings & Jeffrey M. Weinstein, 2007. "Information, School Choice, and Academic Achievement: Evidence from Two Experiments," NBER Working Papers 13623, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Thomas J. Kane & Jonah E. Rockoff & Douglas O. Staiger, 2006. "What Does Certification Tell Us About Teacher Effectiveness? Evidence from New York City," NBER Working Papers 12155, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Philip J. Cook & Robert MacCoun & Clara Muschkin & Jacob Vigdor, 2008. "The negative impacts of starting middle school in sixth grade," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(1), pages 104-121.
    9. Kelly Bedard & Elizabeth Dhuey, 2006. "The Persistence of Early Childhood Maturity: International Evidence of Long-Run Age Effects," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1437-1472, November.
    10. Raegen T. MILLER & Richard J. MURNANE & John B. WILLETT, 2008. "Do worker absences affect productivity? The case of teachers," International Labour Review, International Labour Organization, vol. 147(1), pages 71-89, 03.
    11. Kelly Bedard & Chau Do, 2005. "Are Middle Schools More Effective?: The Impact of School Structure on Student Outcomes," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(3).
    12. Charles T. Clotfelter & Helen F. Ladd & Jacob L. Vigdor, 2009. "Are Teacher Absences Worth Worrying About in the United States?," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 4(2), pages 115-149, April.
    13. Jonah E. Rockoff, 2004. "The Impact of Individual Teachers on Student Achievement: Evidence from Panel Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 247-252, May.
    14. Elizabeth Cascio & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, 2007. "First in the Class? Age and the Education Production Function," NBER Working Papers 13663, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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