Abstract: Math skill in early childhood is a key predictor of future academic achievement. Parental engagement in math learning contributes to the growth of children's math skills during this period. To help boost parent-child engagement in math activities and children's math skills, we conducted an RCT lasting 12 weeks with 758 low-income preschoolers (3-5 years old) and their primary caregivers. Parents were randomized into five groups: 1) a control group, and groups that received 2) a digital tablet with math apps for children; 3) analog math materials for parents to use with children, 4) analog math materials with weekly text messages to manage parents' present bias; and 5) analog math materials with weekly text messages to increase parents' growth mindset. Relative to the control group, neither the analog math materials alone nor the analog materials with growth mindset messages increased child math skills during the intervention period. However, the analog math materials combined with messaging to manage present bias and the digital tablet with math apps increased child math skills by about 0.20 standard deviations (p=.10) measured six months after the intervention. These two treatments also significantly increased parents' self-reported time engaged in math activities with their children.
Abstract: College-educated mothers spend substantially more time in intensive childcare than less educated mothers despite their higher opportunity cost of time and working more hours. Using data from the 2010–2013 and 2021 waves of the Well-being Module of the American Time Use Survey, we investigate this puzzle by testing the hypothesis that college-educated mothers enjoy childcare more. We find that among all mothers, spending time in childcare is associated with higher positive feelings compared to spending time in other activities. However, college-educated mothers experience no more positive feelings and no fewer negative feelings during intensive childcare than other mothers. Moreover, college-educated mothers report substantially fewer positive feelings for time spent in management activities and substantially more negative feelings for time spent in educational activities with their child. Findings are robust to controlling for a rich set of covariates, mother fixed effects, and simulations to account for selection into intensive childcare.
Abstract: School districts use teacher performance ratings to distinguish between higher- and lower-quality teachers. Exploiting naturally occurring yearly variation in classroom composition within teachers over time, we examine whether teacher ratings given by evaluators and students are influenced by classroom characteristics. Having a draw of higher-achieving students significantly improves evaluator and student ratings, and results are robust to various specifications, placebo tests, and across multidimensional teaching practices. Conversely, classroom demographics do not consistently affect ratings. A policy that adjusts evaluator ratings for classroom characteristics would improve black teachers’ ranking by 15 percentage points more than other teachers, highlighting possibilities to retain teacher diversity within the existing teaching workforce.
Abstract: Does student-teacher match quality exist? Prior work has documented large disparities in teachers' impacts across student types but has not distinguished between sorting and causal effects as the drivers of these disparities. I propose a disparate value-added model and derive a novel measure of teacher quality—revealed comparative advantage—that captures the degree to which teachers affect student outcome gaps. Quasi-experimental changes in teaching staff show that the comparative advantage measure accurately predicts teachers’ disparate impacts: a teacher with a 1 standard deviation in revealed comparative advantage for black students increases black students' test scores by 1 standard deviation and has no effect on non-black students' test scores. Teacher removal and teacher-to-classroom re-allocation simulations show substantial efficiency and equity gains of considering teachers’ comparative advantage.