I am an
Assistant Professor of Economics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. My research interests are
education, public finance and health.
I am an Assistant Professor of Economics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. My research interests are education, public finance and health.
Parent-Child Information Frictions and Human Capital Investment: Evidence from a Field Experiment
This paper uses a field experiment to answer how information frictions between parents and their children affect human capital investment and how much reducing those frictions can improve student achievement. A random sample of parents was provided additional information about their child's missing assignments, grades and upcoming exams. As in a standard principal-agent model, more information allowed parents to induce more effort from their children, which translated into significant gains in GPA, test scores and measures of student effort. Importantly however, some parents were not fully aware of these information problems; the messages changed their beliefs about the quality of information they got from their child and spurred their demand for information directly from the school. Relative to other interventions, providing more information to parents potentially produces large gains in achievement at a low cost.
Research in Progress
Teachers' Value Added: Nonparametric Estimations of the
Education-Production Function (with Matt Baird)
In practice, teacher effects are often identified by
assuming student, family, and school inputs are additively separable and that unobservable inputs
and endowments are captured by prior test
scores, which imposes strong restrictions on how prior inputs and ability enter
the model. This paper relaxes the assumption of linear, additive separability
by estimating teachers' value added using several semi-parametric methods.
We document several facts: First, teachers' value added varies significantly
by students' initial performance, as measured by prior test scores. There is
much greater within-teacher variation in value added than across teacher
variation. Second, we find evidence of policy-relevant variation in teachers'
value added by model specification. Our most flexible model
finds at least 18% of teachers would be reclassified out of the lowest
or highest quintiles. We find that a simple OLS specification that includes
teacher fixed effects interacted with higher-order terms for lagged test
scores approximates our most flexible semi-parametric model best. From
a theoretical perspective, our results imply potential complementarities
between teachers and student characteristics. From a policy standpoint,
optimal teacher-assignment initiatives may want to take into account
how a teacher's value added varies by student characteristics.
The Impact of High-Performing Schools on Risky Health Behaviors Among Low-Income Adolescents (with Mitchell Wong, Karen Coller, Rebecca Dudovitz, David Kennedy, Richard Buddin, Martin Shapiro, Sheryl Kataoka, Arleen Brown, Chi Hong Tseng, and Paul Chung)
Abstract: Poor education is strongly associated with adverse health behaviors and outcomes, but whether better public education can improve health is unknown. We used the random admission lottery into high-performing public charter high schools in Los Angeles to conduct a natural experiment and determine whether exposure to successful school environments leads to fewer risky behaviors (binge drinking, use of marijuana or alcohol at school, unprotected sex, and participation in gangs). Being offered admission to a high-performing school (intervention effect) led to 0.32 standard deviation increase in test scores, greater school retention (91% vs. 76%, p<0.001), and lower rates of engaging in one or more very risky behaviors (OR=0.73, p<0.05). Seventy-two percent of the intervention effect on risky behaviors occurs through better school retention and test scores. Better public education and increasing school retention may be an effective targets for improving health and reducing health disparities.
The Impact of Tax Credit Information on Student Achievement: Evidence from a Field Experiment (with Day Manoli and Nick Turner)
The Effects of Making Performance Information Public: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design (with Matt Hill)
The Impact of Information Frictions on Residential and School Choice: Evidence from a Field Experiment (with Matt Hill and Heather Schwartz)
Linking Information and Families Together to Address Educational And Health Behavioral Outcomes: Evidence from a Field Experiment (with Rebecca Dudovitz and Mitchell Wong)