kitchen table math, the sequel: a bad economy depresses math scores

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

a bad economy depresses math scores

Given the magnitude of the recent recession, and the high-stakes testing the U.S. has implemented under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), it is important to understand the effects of large-scale job losses on student achievement. We examine the effects of state-level job losses on fourth- and eighth-grade test scores, using federal Mass Layoff Statistics and 1996-2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress data. Results indicate that job losses decrease scores. Effects are larger for eighth than fourth graders and for math than reading assessments, and are robust to specification checks. Job losses to 1% of a state’s working-age population lead to a .076 standard deviation decrease in the state’s eighth-grade math scores. This result is an order of magnitude larger than those found in previous studies that have compared students whose parents lose employment to otherwise similar students, suggesting that downturns affect all students, not just students who experience parental job loss. Our findings have important implications for accountability schemes: we calculate that a state experiencing one-year job losses to 2% of its workers (a magnitude observed in seven states) likely sees a 16% increase in the share of its schools failing to make Adequate Yearly Progress under NCLB.

Children Left Behind: The Effects of Statewide Job Loss on Student Achievement
Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat, Anna Gassman-Pines, Dania V. Francis, Christina M. Gibson-Davis
NBER Working Paper No. 17104
Issued in June 2011
NBER Program(s): CH
Here's the Curious Capitalist: Is the Economy Hurting Your Kid's Report Card?.


Crimson Wife said...

My guess would be it's mostly the effect of budget cuts. Class sizes have gone from 22 to 31 in the primary grades since the end of the boom in my district. The schools have also cut way, way back on PE and eliminated art & music entirely. None of those things can be good for the quality of education.

Niels Henrik Abel said...

Bad math scores depress me, especially when I think "And these are the leaders of tomorrow?"

Anonymous said...

And the plus-or-minus on this 0.076 sd change is ... ?

Mark Roulo

Catherine Johnson said...

Crimson Wife - with the increased class size, has your district continued to use heterogeneous grouping (assuming that's what they were doing prior to the crash, of course)