Study: Harlem charter boosts ‘human capital’

The Harlem Children Zone‘s Promise Academy, a charter middle school, raises test scores, concluded Harvard EdLabs researchers Will Dobbie and Roland Fryer. Sixth-grade lottery winners close the black-white achievement gap by the end of eighth grade.

A new study finds that students are more likely to graduate from high school and enroll in college, less likely to experience teen pregnancy or incarceration.

That’s a huge human-capital boost, notes Education Gadfly.

Six years after winning the admissions lottery, Promise Academy students not only score higher on the nationally normed Woodcock-Johnson math achievement tests than lottery losers, but they are more likely to enroll in college, by 24 percentage points. Additionally, female lottery winners are 12 percentage points less likely to become pregnant in their teens, while males are 4 percentage points less likely to be incarcerated. The Harlem Children’s Zone social and community-building services are well documented, but Dobbie and Fryer attribute Promise Academy’s success to the markers that make it a high-performing school (extended school time, high-quality teachers, data-driven decision making, and heightened expectations).

Winning the charter lottery had little effect on students’ health or likelihood of using drugs and alcohol.

Hispanic grads pass whites in college enrollment

Hispanic high school graduates are now more likely than whites to enroll in college: In the class of 2012, 69 percent of Hispanic graduates and 67 percent of whites enrolled in college that fall. Hispanics are less likely than whites to complete high school, but the gap is closing. However, there’s a large college graduation gap.

Federal programs to help disadvantaged students earn college degrees “show no major effects on college enrollment or completion,” concludes a Brookings study. The U.S. Education Department’s college-prep programs cost more than $1 billion a year.

College rush is slowing

“The recession convinced many young American high-school graduates to take refuge in college instead of try their luck in a lousy job market,” reports the Wall Street Journal. But, now fewer high school graduates are going on to college, according to the Labor Department.

On 2012, 66.2 percent of recent graduates enrolled in college:  The share of female graduates enrolling in college declined from 72.3 percent the year before to 71.3 percent. Men, who are lagging in college attendance, declined from 64.6 percent to 61.3 percent.

Some graduates think they can find jobs, though unemployment rates remain high — 34.4 percent for high school graduates who aren’t in school.

I suspect young people are more wary of borrowing for college, especially if they’re not strong students.

College reverses ban on ‘sex’ newspaper

Central New Mexico Community College backed down this week from its decision to suspend the student newspaper for publishing a “sex issue.” Confiscated copies of the newspaper were returned to the news racks.

Also on Community College Spotlight:  Early-college high school students are more likely to earn a diploma and enroll in college, starting with an average of 36 college credits, reports Jobs for the Future.

Where are the college men?

There’s no gender gap for community college students who are recent high school graduates, but women outnumber men by as much as three to one among students 25 or older. Where are the college men?

Georgia raised black male college enrollment by 80 percent and degrees awarded by 60 percent from 2002 to 2011 through a variety of initiatives targeting black males.

Colleges hit tuition pushback

Nearly half of colleges and universities expect enrollment declines, according to a Moody’s survey. Tuition growth is slowing too. With years of depressed family income and “uncertain job prospects for many recent graduates,” fewer students are willing to pay high tuition at non-elite colleges.

College enrollments fall by 1.8%

College enrollments declined by 1.8 percent in fall 2012 with for-profits and community colleges showing the biggest drops. That could show that more people are finding jobs, but it undercuts President Obama’s goal of making the U.S. first in the world in college-educated workers.

College enrollment dips

College enrollment declined slightly in 2011, the first drop in 15 years.

California’s long wait lists may be driving the drop in community college enrollment:  Thousands of students are taking one class per semester — and not always the right class.

Study: Great teachers have lifelong impact

Students with an excellent elementary or middle-school teacher don’t just earn higher reading and math scores, concludes a new study that tracked one million students in an urban district over 20 years. A single year with a high value-added teacher leads to higher college attendance, higher adult earnings and even lower teenage-pregnancy rates, according to the authors, economists Raj Chetty and John Friedman of Harvard and Columbia Professor Jonah Rockoff.

All else equal, a student with one excellent teacher for one year between fourth and eighth grade would gain $4,600 in lifetime income, compared to a student of similar demographics who has an average teacher. The student with the excellent teacher would also be 0.5 percent more likely to attend college.

It may be difficult to hire more excellent (top five percent) teachers, but it’s not necessary.

. . . the difference in long-term outcome between students who have average teachers and those with poor-performing ones is as significant as the difference between those who have excellent teachers and those with average ones, the study found.

It adds up: Replacing a low-value-added (bottom five percent) teacher with an average teacher would raise a single classroom’s lifetime earnings by about $266,000, the economists estimate.

“If you leave a low value-added teacher in your school for 10 years, rather than replacing him with an average teacher, you are hypothetically talking about $2.5 million in lost income,” said Professor Friedman, one of the coauthors.

. . . “The message is to fire people sooner rather than later,” Professor Friedman said.

When a high value-added teacher transferred to a new school, student performance went up in the grade or subject area taught by that teacher, matching predicted gains. Scores dropped in the school the high-value teacher had left. Conversely, scores went up significantly when a low-value teacher left and dropped in her new school.

High performing teachers may more than justify much higher pay,” Slate observes.

“Great teachers create great value – perhaps several times their annual salaries,” write the authors. Now a working paper, the study will be submitted to a journal.

Maybe parents aren’t dopes

Parents strongly prefer schools of choice, even when tests show only modest benefits, writes Rick Hess. Some think parents are “dopes.” Maybe parents know their kids are benefiting in other ways.

Directly relevant here is the intriguing new National Bureau of Economic Research paper School Choice, School Quality and Postsecondary Attainment (pdf). What economists David Deming, Justine Hastings, Tom Kane, and Doug Staiger find is that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg (CMS) open-enrollment initiative, which launched in 2001, yielded surprisingly substantial long-term gains for the participating students. They were able to track the results for nearly 20,000 students after high school graduation, and reported that students who won the lottery to attend a school outside their own neighborhood were more likely “to graduate from high school, attend a four-year college, and earn a bachelor’s degree. They are twice as likely to earn a degree from an elite university.” The researchers found no evidence of “cream skimming,” and noted that lottery winners closed nearly a quarter of the black-white difference in college completion.

Raising test scores aren’t the only way a school can help students, Hess writes.

Maybe parents who express high levels of satisfaction with choice see that their kids are better behaved and more focused, disciplined and academically engaged.

Maybe not. “But it seems as viable as the ‘parents are dopes’ hypothesis.”