The Unintended Effects of Education Policy: Learning More with Better Data
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
In this panel, we showcase how innovative combining and expanding of existing data is valuable when applied to understanding unintended policy effects that spillover into domains outside those intended as targets by policy makers. Using a rich variety of datasets, each of the papers identifies and unpacks salient dimensions of unintended consequences arising from education policies. In the first paper, the author capitalizes on the availability of rich micro data on low-stakes testing from one of the nation’s largest school districts, and combines it with state policy data on mandated grade retention, showing positive effects on student effort as a result of the retention incentive. The second paper uses a nationally representative database on high stakes testing, and student mental health to show the negative causal effect of adopting high stakes tests on student anxiety and self-perception. In the third paper, authors join university application data to measures of K-12 high-stakes accountability performance data from Florida, to show that students who attend schools who received a more negative performance rating were less likely to apply to college. Finally, the fourth paper seeks to improve the rigor of research on the school-to-prison pipeline, and uses school discipline and crime data to show how post-Katrina reforms in New Orleans impacted student experience. Together, the panel showcases how adding new data sources to those typically used to answer questions of education policy impact, can reveal additional, unintended, policy effects.