Panel Paper: How Does Minority School Board Representation Affect School District Administration and Student Achievement?

Thursday, November 8, 2018
Taft - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Zachary Peskowitz1, Vladimir Kogan2 and St├ęphane Lavertu2, (1)Emory University, (2)The Ohio State University


We employ a regression discontinuity design leveraging school board election outcomes to investigate how the racial composition of California school boards affects school district administration and student achievement. Motivated by theoretical models of collective decisionmaking, we separately estimate the effect of increasing minority membership by a win, an election swinging the board to majority-minority, and a win by a diversity-increasing candidate on educational outcomes. While the effects of an additional minority representative and a diversity-increasing representative are small, we find evidence that adding an additional minority board member when school boards already have a critical mass of minority members increases average student achievement and attainment. In our sample, these effects are concentrated among Latino students and these gains do not come at the expense of adverse performance among other student groups. Turning to the policy mechanisms underlying these effects, we find that majority-minority boards increase the probability that capital bond referenda are proposed and passed.