Essays on the economics of education
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] The first chapter in this dissertation follows a cohort of initially high performing Missouri students from grade-3 through grade-9 and examines which school factors influence their academic success. Three key findings emerge. First, in terms of performance on standardized tests, schools that are effective in promoting academic growth among low performing students are also generally effective with high performing students. Second, high performing students who attend disadvantaged schools are more likely to take Algebra I later relative to their counterparts who attend more advantaged schools. Third, somewhat surprisingly, increasing the number of high performing students in a school negatively affects high performing student outcomes. The second chapter in this dissertation looks at using test measurement error (TME) to improve the precision of value added estimates. I incorporate information about TME directly into VAMs, focusing on TME that derives from the testing instrument itself. In my analysis, I estimate VAMs using Missouri micro data and estimates of TME provided by a major test publisher. I find that inference from VAMs is improved by making simple TME adjustments to the models. This improvement is on the order of what one could expect if teacher-level sample sizes were increased by 11 to 17 percent.
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