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External Research Briefs

Disclaimer: The documents posted on this site include information created by other public and private organizations. The Oregon Department of Education does not guarantee the accuracy, timeliness, or completeness of these documents.

  • Local Tax Limits, Student Achievement, and School-Finance Equalization
    (Working Paper)

    By Matt Davis, Andrea Vedder, and Joe Stone, 2016

    Abstract: Evidence that local tax and expenditure limits (TELs) for public K-12 schools lower student achievement is widely attributed to the effects of reduced funding, but our results cast doubt on reduced funding as the primary explanation for negative effects of TELs in the context of school-finance equalization (SFE) and instead suggest the importance of predictable funding. Students in districts subject to more severe local tax limits in Oregon score less well on eighth-grade tests in mathematics, but reduced funding is not the reason. Our analysis expands prior work by accounting for the extent to which TELs are actually binding, as well as for both pecuniary and non-pecuniary effects of TELs. Distinguishing pecuniary and non-pecuniary effects allows us to document that the negative effect of TELs in Oregon is not due to reduced expenditures. The state’s school-finance equalization (SFE) tends to offset funding differentials, so TELs have no significant effect on funding, but even if TELs did affect funding, the negative effect of TELs on achievement is significant even if district expenditures are held constant. Instead, the negative effect of more restrictive TELs appears to work by disrupting local planning. We isolate this effect by distinguishing the more uncertain first year of each biennial budget from the second year. Our quasi-experimental design accounts for district and year fixed effects, as well as for district-specific variations in expenditures and student attributes. Results are robust to a placebo test to reveal spurious correlation and to several alternative specifications.(For the published paper please visit here)

  • English Language Programs in Oregon: Helping or Inhibiting English Language Learners?

    By Lucy Hackett, 2015

    Abstract: English Language Learners (ELL’s) face challenges to their educational success because of the added difficulty of non-­-fluency in the English Language. This paper studies the effect that English programs in Oregon public schools have on the educational outcomes of ELL’s. A regression discontinuity design was utilized to test the effect that treatment with English programming has on ELL students’ outcomes on Math and Reading assessments, and revealed either no economically significant or a negligibly positive effect from English programming on either Reading or Math scores.

  • The Gender Gap in Oregon Public Schools: Trends and a Decompositional Breakdown

    By Kevin Frazier, 2015

    Abstract: Increasingly, female students in Oregon out perform their male colleagues on important indicators of academic success such as graduation rates and state exam scores. Quantifying the magnitude of the gender gap and determining the reasons for this gulf in performance will enable the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) to take steps toward ameliorating this divide between students. This study, using regression analysis and data from the ODE, will provide educators around the nation with a more complete understanding of the factors that most significantly affect the creation and persistence of all kinds of gaps in educational outcomes.

  • Peer Effects and Gender Differences in High School Graduation in Oregon

    By Jack Bischman, Rimma Gurevich, Ben Noah, and Haley Rivet, 2015

    Abstract: In 2013, Oregon had the lowest high school graduation rate of any state at 68.7%, with a significant gender gap in rates between boys and girls.1 This study explores the influence of peer effects on graduation probability and the individual characteristics that influence the gender gap in graduation outcomes for 9th graders entering high school. First, we look at the gender gap in graduation through various categories, such as a student's race, ethnicity and whether a student is economically disadvantaged. The study then assesses the significance of gender interactions with individual characteristics and the peer effect of the tenth grade graduation rate on the ninth grade graduation probability. We find that the peer effect has a small yet significant effect on a student’s probability of graduating, and gender gaps partially arose from interactions with Hispanic and 8th grade math scores.

  • The Effects of Teacher Experience on Budget Allocation and Student-Teacher Ratios: An analysis of the effects of teacher experience on student teacher ratios and budget allocation in Oregon School Districts

    By Chris Deal, Matthew Dodier, Jing Li, and Chong Zhao, 2015

    Abstract: The economic literature exploring the potential negative externalities of teacher experience is minimal. To improve on that end we analyze the relationship between teacher experience and both its effect on marginalized categories of the school budget and on student-teacher ratios at the district level. In our analysis, we use a panel data set provided by the Oregon Department of Education spanning the years 2000-2014 across approximately 200 Oregon public school districts. We utilize logarithmic variations of the Ordinary Least Squares empirical models that control for socioeconomic and demographic differences, and include district and year fixed 2 effects. Our estimates suggest that an increase in teacher experience leads to a decrease in the percentage of the budget allocated to athletics, the arts, physical education, and extracurricular activities. The effects of the average level of teacher experience on physical education, athletics, and extracurricular activity spending are significant at the five-percent level, while the effect on the arts is significant at the ten-percent level. Furthermore, our results indicate that there is a positive relationship between years of teacher experience and student-teacher ratios, an effect that is statistically significant at the one-percent level.