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Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions

  • Alan B. Krueger

This paper analyzes data from Project STAR, an experiment in which 11,600 Tennessee kindergarten students and teachers were randomly assigned to one of three types of classes beginning in the 1985-86 school year: small classes (13-17 students), regular-size classes (22-25 students) teacher's aide. According to the original design, students were to remain in their initial class type through the third grade. In practice, however, students in regular-size classes were randomly re-assigned at the end of kindergarten, and about 10 percent of students moved between class types in second and third grade. Attrition was also common. Several statistical methods are used to investigate the impact of these limitations. The main conclusions are: (1) on average, performance on standardized tests increases by about 4 percentile points the first year students are assigned to a small class, irrespective of the grade in which the student first attends a small class; (2) after initial assignment to a small class, student performance increases by about one percentile point per year relative to those in regular-size classes; (3) teacher aides have little effect on student achievement; (4) class size has a larger effect on test scores for minority students and for those on free lunch; (5) the beneficial effect of smaller classes does not appear to result from Hawthorne effects.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w6051.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6051.

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Date of creation: Jun 1997
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Publication status: published as Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 114, no. 2 (May 1999): 497-532.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6051
Note: CH LS
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. Hanushek, Eric A, 1986. "The Economics of Schooling: Production and Efficiency in Public Schools," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 24(3), pages 1141-77, September.
  2. Eric A. Hanushek & Lori L. Taylor, 1990. "Alternative Assessments of the Performance of Schools: Measurement of State Variations in Achievement," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(2), pages 179-201.
  3. David Card & Alan Krueger, 1996. "Labor Market Effects of School Quality: Theory and Evidence," Working Papers 736, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  4. Summers, Anita A & Wolfe, Barbara L, 1977. "Do Schools Make a Difference?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(4), pages 639-52, September.
  5. Hanushek, Eric A., 2006. "School Resources," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
  6. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 1999. "Using Maimonides' Rule To Estimate The Effect Of Class Size On Scholastic Achievement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(2), pages 533-575, May.
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