IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/15473.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Are High Quality Schools Enough to Close the Achievement Gap? Evidence from a Social Experiment in Harlem

Author

Listed:
  • Will Dobbie
  • Roland G. Fryer, Jr

Abstract

Harlem Children's Zone (HCZ), which combines community investments with reform minded charter schools, is one of the most ambitious social experiments to alleviate poverty of our time. We provide the first empirical test of the causal impact of HCZ on educational outcomes, with an eye toward informing the long-standing debate whether schools alone can eliminate the achievement gap or whether the issues that poor children bring to school are too much for educators alone to overcome. Both lottery and instrumental variable identification strategies lead us to the same story: Harlem Children's Zone is effective at increasing the achievement of the poorest minority children. Taken at face value, the effects in middle school are enough to close the black-white achievement gap in mathematics and reduce it by nearly half in English Language Arts. The effects in elementary school close the racial achievement gap in both subjects. We conclude by presenting four pieces of evidence that high-quality schools or high-quality schools coupled with community investments generate the achievement gains. Community investments alone cannot explain the results.

Suggested Citation

  • Will Dobbie & Roland G. Fryer, Jr, 2009. "Are High Quality Schools Enough to Close the Achievement Gap? Evidence from a Social Experiment in Harlem," NBER Working Papers 15473, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15473
    Note: CH ED LS
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w15473.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Brian A. Jacob, 2004. "Public Housing, Housing Vouchers, and Student Achievement: Evidence from Public Housing Demolitions in Chicago," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 233-258, March.
    2. Alan B. Krueger, 1999. "Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(2), pages 497-532.
    3. Card, David & Rothstein, Jesse, 2007. "Racial segregation and the black-white test score gap," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(11-12), pages 2158-2184, December.
    4. Thomas J. Kane & Douglas O. Staiger, 2008. "Estimating Teacher Impacts on Student Achievement: An Experimental Evaluation," NBER Working Papers 14607, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Lisa Sanbonmatsu & Jeffrey R. Kling & Greg J. Duncan & Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, 2006. "Neighborhoods and Academic Achievement: Results from the Moving to Opportunity Experiment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(4).
    6. Brian A. Jacob & Lars Lefgren, 2004. "Remedial Education and Student Achievement: A Regression-Discontinuity Analysis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 226-244, February.
    7. Steven D. Levitt & Lance Lochner, 2001. "The Determinants of Juvenile Crime," NBER Chapters,in: Risky Behavior among Youths: An Economic Analysis, pages 327-374 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Jens Ludwig & Douglas L. Miller, 2007. "Does Head Start Improve Children's Life Chances? Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(1), pages 159-208.
    9. Daniel Aaronson & Lisa Barrow & William Sander, 2007. "Teachers and Student Achievement in the Chicago Public High Schools," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 95-135.
    10. Cullen, Julie Berry & Jacob, Brian A. & Levitt, Steven D., 2005. "The impact of school choice on student outcomes: an analysis of the Chicago Public Schools," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 729-760, June.
    11. O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), 1999. "Handbook of Labor Economics," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 3, number 3.
    12. Robert Kaestner & Kevin Callison, 2011. "Adolescent Cognitive and Noncognitive Correlates of Adult Health," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 5(1), pages 29-69.
    13. Kane, Thomas J. & Rockoff, Jonah E. & Staiger, Douglas O., 2008. "What does certification tell us about teacher effectiveness? Evidence from New York City," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 615-631, December.
    14. Brian Jacob & Jens Ludwig, 2008. "Improving Educational Outcomes for Poor Children," NBER Working Papers 14550, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Lance Lochner & Enrico Moretti, 2004. "The Effect of Education on Crime: Evidence from Prison Inmates, Arrests, and Self-Reports," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 155-189, March.
    16. Neal, Derek A & Johnson, William R, 1996. "The Role of Premarket Factors in Black-White Wage Differences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 869-895, October.
    17. Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2005. "The Relationship Between Education and Adult Mortality in the United States," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(1), pages 189-221.
    18. Christopher Jepsen & Steven Rivkin, 2002. "What is the Tradeoff Between Smaller Classes and Teacher Quality?," NBER Working Papers 9205, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. 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.
    20. Lawrence F. Katz & Jeffrey R. Kling & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2001. "Moving to Opportunity in Boston: Early Results of a Randomized Mobility Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 607-654.
    21. Anderson, Michael L., 2008. "Multiple Inference and Gender Differences in the Effects of Early Intervention: A Reevaluation of the Abecedarian, Perry Preschool, and Early Training Projects," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 103(484), pages 1481-1495.
    22. Carmit Segal, 2006. "Motivation, test scores and economic success," Economics Working Papers 1124, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 2008.
    23. Cecilia Elena Rouse, 1998. "Private School Vouchers and Student Achievement: An Evaluation of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(2), pages 553-602.
    24. Oreopoulos, Philip, 2007. "Do dropouts drop out too soon? Wealth, health and happiness from compulsory schooling," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(11-12), pages 2213-2229, December.
    25. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Keueger, 1991. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 979-1014.
    26. Roland G. Fryer & Steven D. Levitt, 2004. "Understanding the Black-White Test Score Gap in the First Two Years of School," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 447-464, May.
    27. Card, David, 2001. "Estimating the Return to Schooling: Progress on Some Persistent Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(5), pages 1127-1160, September.
    28. Caroline M. Hoxby & Sonali Murarka, 2009. "Charter Schools in New York City: Who Enrolls and How They Affect Their Students' Achievement," NBER Working Papers 14852, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    29. Michael J. Podgursky & Matthew G. Springer, 2007. "Teacher performance pay: A review," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(4), pages 909-950.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Joshua D. Angrist & Susan M. Dynarski & Thomas J. Kane & Parag A. Pathak & Christopher R. Walters, 2012. "Who Benefits from KIPP?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 31(4), pages 837-860, September.
    2. Joshua D. Angrist & Susan M. Dynarski & Thomas J. Kane & Parag A. Pathak & Christopher R. Walters, 2010. "Inputs and Impacts in Charter Schools: KIPP Lynn," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 239-243, May.
    3. List, John A. & Rasul, Imran, 2011. "Field Experiments in Labor Economics," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
    4. Robert Metcalfe & Simon Burgess and Steven Proud, 2011. "Student effort and educational attainment: Using the England football team to identify the education production function," Economics Series Working Papers 586, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    5. Pierre Lefebvre & Philip Merrigan, 2010. "Gender Gap in Dropping out of High School: Evidence from the Canadian NLSCY Youth," Cahiers de recherche 1044, CIRPEE.
    6. Roland G. Fryer, Jr, 2010. "Racial Inequality in the 21st Century: The Declining Significance of Discrimination," NBER Working Papers 16256, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Atila Abdulkadiroğlu & Joshua D. Angrist & Susan M. Dynarski & Thomas J. Kane & Parag A. Pathak, 2011. "Accountability and Flexibility in Public Schools: Evidence from Boston's Charters And Pilots," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(2), pages 699-748.
    8. Sara B. Heller & Brian A. Jacob & Jens Ludwig, 2010. "Family Income, Neighborhood Poverty, and Crime," NBER Chapters,in: Controlling Crime: Strategies and Tradeoffs, pages 419-459 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Glenn Ellison & Ashley Swanson, 2012. "Heterogeneity in High Math Achievement Across Schools: Evidence from the American Mathematics Competitions," NBER Working Papers 18277, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Stephen Machin & Olmo Silva, 2013. "School Structure, School Autonomy and the Tail," CEP Special Papers 29, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    11. Philip Oreopoulos & Robert S. Brown & Adam M. Lavecchia, 2017. "Pathways to Education: An Integrated Approach to Helping At-Risk High School Students," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 125(4), pages 947-984.
    12. Lawrence Mead, 2015. "Only connect: Why government often ignores research," Policy Sciences, Springer;Society of Policy Sciences, vol. 48(2), pages 257-272, June.
    13. Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, 2015. "Current themes in education policy in the United States," Chapters,in: Social Policies in an Age of Austerity, chapter 7, pages 165-180 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    14. Stephen Machin & James Vernoit, 2011. "Changing School Autonomy: Academy Schools and their Introduction to England's Education," CEE Discussion Papers 0123, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15473. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: () or (Joanne Lustig). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.