Race-Based Policy Decisions in Education: Evidence from Empirical Studies
Saturday, November 14, 2015: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Japengo (Hyatt Regency Miami)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Panel Organizers: David Liebowitz, Harvard University
Panel Chairs: Dave Marcotte, American University
Discussants: Shaun Dougherty, University of Connecticut and Carrie Conaway, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Since the school desegregation cases of the 1960s, policy makers motivated to eliminate race-based educational disparities have designed school policies that explicitly consider students’ and educators’ race. These efforts include taking into account race in student assignment plans, in affirmative action teacher hiring practices, and in accountability systems that reward schools for reducing racial achievement gaps. Educators have argued that such explicit consideration of race is beneficial in reducing educational outcome disparities—an empirically testable proposition.
In this panel, we propose to share the results of four studies that bring evidence to bear on the following question: does being intentional about the use of students’ and teachers’ race in the design of school policy accomplish the positive outcomes theorized by jurists and policy makers?
Our first paper considers the effects of school desegregation efforts on the incidence of interracial births and infant health outcomes. By exploiting exogenous variation in the timing of court desegregation orders, the author compares birth and infant health outcomes for mothers who were and were not exposed to K-12 desegregation. The results indicate that school desegregation induced both black and white students to be more likely to produce biracial children, and that infants born to mothers who attended desegregated schools were in better health, as measured by birth weight and gestational age.
The second paper examines the aftermath of court desegregation orders. Starting in 1991, federal courts declared almost half of all districts under court order to have met their obligations to desegregate. Using a difference-in-difference identification strategy, this study concludes that the end of desegregation increased the rate of Hispanic residential segregation and increased the Hispanics and blacks high school status dropout rates.
Our third paper explores the impact of federal accountability policies in the ESEA Reauthorization of 2001 that held schools and districts accountable for the performance of students of color. In Texas, schools were held accountable for the performance of students in a given racial subgroup only when more than fifty students of that group attended a school. The study uses a regression discontinuity design to investigate the effects of the added race-based criterion. The evidence suggests that these targeted incentives not only increased reading and math achievement for students in the targeted racial group, but for other students in the school as well. Furthermore, these results persist for one to two years after treatment.
Finally, our last paper analyzes the benefits of a match between the race of teachers and the students in their classes. Specifically, using a student fixed effect identification strategy, the authors estimate the effects of student-teacher demographic mismatch on teachers’ beliefs about students’ ultimate educational attainment. When black students are assigned to an other-race teacher, teachers hold lower educational attainment expectations for them, and these effects are greater in magnitude for black boys than they are for black girls.
Taken together, these papers represent a wide-ranging analysis of the short-, medium-, and long-term impacts of school policies designed to address the “vestiges” of school segregation.