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American Education Research Changes Tack

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  • Joshua D. Angrist

Abstract

For a quarter century, American education researchers have tended to favour qualitative and descriptive analyses over quantitative studies using random assignment or featuring credible quasi-experimental research designs. This has now changed. In 2002 and 2003, the US Department of Education funded a dozen randomized trials to evaluate the efficacy of pre-school programmes, up from one in 2000. In this essay, I explore the intellectual and legislative roots of this change, beginning with the story of how contemporary education research fell out of step with other social sciences. I then use a study in which low-achieving high-school students were randomly offered incentives to learn to show how recent developments in research methods answer ethical and practical objections to the use of random assignment for research on schools. Finally, I offer a few cautionary notes based on results from the recent effort to cut class size in California. Copyright 2004, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Joshua D. Angrist, 2004. "American Education Research Changes Tack," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(2), pages 198-212, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:oxford:v:20:y:2004:i:2:p:198-212
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    Cited by:

    1. Puhani, Patrick A. & Weber, Andrea Maria, 2005. "Does the early bird catch the worm? Instrumental variable estimates of educational effects of age of school entry in Germany," Darmstadt Discussion Papers in Economics 151, Darmstadt University of Technology, Department of Law and Economics.
    2. Sprietsma, Maresa, 2007. "The Effect of Relative Age in the First Grade of Primary School on Long-Term Scholastic Results: International Comparative Evidence using PISA 2003," ZEW Discussion Papers 07-037, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    3. Martin Schlotter & Guido Schwerdt & Ludger Woessmann, 2011. "Econometric methods for causal evaluation of education policies and practices: a non-technical guide," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(2), pages 109-137.
    4. Thomas D. Cook & Dominique Foray, 2007. "Building the Capacity to Experiment in Schools: A Case Study of the Institute of Educational Sciences in the US Department of Education," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(5), pages 385-402.
    5. repec:ces:ifobei:76 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Kugler Franziska & Schwerdt Guido & Wößmann Ludger, 2014. "Ökonometrische Methoden zur Evaluierung kausaler Effekte der Wirtschaftspolitik," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, De Gruyter, vol. 15(2), pages 105-132, June.
    7. Dolores Messer & Stefan C. Wolter, 2009. "Money Matters - Evidence from a Large-Scale Randomized Field Experiment with Vouchers for Adult Training," CESifo Working Paper Series 2548, CESifo Group Munich.
    8. Lisa Barrow & Cecilia Elena Rouse, 2005. "Causality, causality, causality: the view of education inputs and outputs from economics," Working Paper Series WP-05-15, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    9. Geeta Gandhi Kingdon, 2006. "Teacher characteristics and student performance in India: A pupil fixed effects approach," Economics Series Working Papers GPRG-WPS-059, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    10. Gerhardts, Ilka & Sunde, Uwe & Zierow, Larissa, 2016. "Denominational Schools and Returns to Education - Gender Socialization in Multigrade Classrooms?," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145762, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

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