Panel: Determinants of and Policy Options for Reducing Racial/Ethnic Achievement Gaps Across the U.S.
(Social Equity)

Friday, November 3, 2017: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Stetson F (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Laura E. Bellows, Duke University
Panel Chairs:  Jennifer Bell-Ellwanger, U.S. Department of Education
Discussants:  Sean Reardon, Stanford University and Ajay Chaudry, Independent

Something in the Water? The Role of Lead Contamination in Educational Disparities
Lucy Sorensen1, Ashley Fox1, Heyjie Jung2 and Erika G. Martin1, (1)State University of New York at Albany, (2)Arizona State University

The Impact of Full-Day Kindergarten on Achievement Gaps
Chloe Gibbs, University of Notre Dame

In 1966, the Coleman Report asserted that schools play little role in generating differences in student achievement by race/ethnicity. Since that time, researchers have debated the relative importance of different factors both within schools – and outside of schools – in contributing to racial/ethnic achievement gaps. Yet clear policy solutions remain elusive.  In part, researchers have had limited ability to investigate the determinants of  “achievement gaps” because estimates of these disparities across different geographies were not comparable. The recent release from the Stanford Education Data Archive (SEDA) of black-white and Hispanic-white achievement gaps in school districts across the United States provides researchers with new opportunities to examine the social, economic, and institutional determinants of these disparities. Although black and Hispanic students score below white students in the vast majority of school districts, gaps vary dramatically across the country. This panel includes four papers, each of which uses geographic and/or temporal variation in achievement gaps to investigate what factors may create, sustain, or alleviate disparities.

The first two papers, “Something in the Water? The Role of Lead Contamination in Educational Disparities” and “The Impact of Full-day Kindergarten on Achievement Gaps,” examine the early determinants of disparities in academic achievement. As much of the black-white and Hispanic-white achievement gaps appear at the beginning of students’ schooling careers, understanding the role of early policy interventions is of vital importance. The first paper matches data from SEDA with data on children’s blood lead levels – as well as information on lead hazard control grants – to investigate the impacts of lead poisoning prevention on student test scores and achievement gaps.  The second paper uses variation in the implementation of full-day Kindergarten across states and over time to examine the impacts of access to full-day Kindergarten on student test scores and achievement gaps.

The third and fourth papers, “Crime and Inequality in Academic Achievement across School Districts in the United States” and “Immigration Enforcement Policy and Hispanic-White Achievement Gaps,” both examine the role that community stress may play in academic achievement. The third paper investigates the effects of violent and property crime on student achievement, as well as on the black-white and Hispanic-white achievement gaps. The fourth paper examines the effects of recent increases in immigration enforcement in the U.S. interior on Hispanic-white achievement gaps by using staggered implementation of partnerships between local law enforcement and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

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