Assessing Atlanta's Place-Based College Scholarship
Carycruz M. Bueno, Lindsay C. Page, and Jonathan Smith
We investigate whether and how Achieve Atlanta’s college scholarship and associated services impact college enrollment, persistence, and graduation among Atlanta Public School graduates experiencing low household income. Qualifying for the scholarship of up to $5,000/year does not meaningfully change college enrollment among those near the high school GPA eligibility thresholds. However, scholarship receipt does have large and statistically significant effects on early college persistence (i.e., 14%) that continue through BA degree completion within four years (22%). We discuss how the criteria of place-based programs that support economically disadvantaged students may influence results for different types of students.
The Effect of Free School Meals on BMI and Student Attendance
Will Davis, Daniel Kreisman, and Tareena Musaddiq
We estimate the effect of new access to universal free school meals resulting from the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) on child BMI and attendance. Under the CEP, schools with 40 percent or more of students who qualify for free school meals can offer free breakfast and lunch to all students. With administrative data from a large school district, we use student-level BMI measures from the FitnessGramÓ to compare within student outcomes before and after the implementation of the CEP across CEP-eligible and non-eligible schools. We find that exposure to the CEP increased BMI by about 0.07 standard deviations, equal to a 2-percentage point increase in the reference distribution or nearly 3 pounds. Effects were driven by students previously eligible for free lunches, suggesting a potential “stigma” reducing effect or increased program awareness may have a role. We also find that the program led to an increase in the share of “overweight” students but not in obesity. In addition to the CEP’s effects on student weight outcomes, we also estimate the program’s effect on absences but do not find that the CEP led to a statistically significant change in number of days absent from school.
College Credit on the Table? Advanced Placement Course and Exam Taking
Ishtiaque Fazlul, Todd R. Jones, and Jonathan Smith
Millions of high school students who take an Advanced Placement (AP) course in one of over 30 subjects can earn college credit by performing well on the corresponding AP exam. Using data from four metro-Atlanta public school districts, we find that 15 percent of students’ AP courses do not result in an AP exam. We estimate that up to 32 percent of the AP courses that do not result in an AP exam would result in a score of 3 or higher, which generally commands college credit at colleges and universities across the United States. We then examine disparities in AP exam-taking rates and have three main takeaways. First, we find evidence consistent with the positive impact of school district exam subsidies on AP exam-taking rates. In fact, students on free and reduced-price lunch (FRL) in the districts that provide a higher subsidy to FRL students than non-FRL students are more likely to take an AP exam than their non-FRL counterparts, after controlling for demographic and academic covariates. Second, Black students are 4 percentage points less likely to take an AP exam than their White peers, even among those with the same academic credentials and from the same high school. Third, we find no evidence that a female student paired with a female AP course teacher takes the AP exam at a higher rate as compared to being paired with a male teacher, even in courses that are underrepresented by females.
Vocational and Career Tech Education in American High Schools: The Value of Depth over Breadth
Daniel Kreisman and Kevin Strange
Vocational education is a large part of the high school curriculum, yet we have little understanding of what drives vocational enrollment or whether these courses help or harm early careers. To address this we develop a framework for curriculum choice, taking into account ability and preferences for academic and vocational work. We test model predictions using detailed transcript and earnings information from the NLSY97. Our results are two-fold. First, students positively sort into vocational courses, suggesting the belief that low ability students are funneled into vocational coursework is unlikely true. Second, we ﬁnd higher earnings among students taking more upper-level vocational courses – a nearly 2% wage premium for each additional year, yet we ﬁnd no gain from introductory vocational courses. These results suggest (a) policies limiting students’ ability to take vocational courses may not be welfare enhancing, and (b) the beneﬁts of vocational coursework accrue to those who focus on depth over breadth.
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