Program on Education. (Conferences)

Article excerpt

The NBER's Program on Education met in Cambridge on November 14. Program Director Caroline M. Hoxby of Harvard University organized the meeting. These papers were discussed:

Benjamin Scafidi and David Sjoquist, Georgia State University, and Todd R. Stinebrickner, University of Western Ontario, "Where Do Teachers Go?" Discussant: Richard Murnane, NBER and Harvard University

Eric A. Hanushek, NBER and Stanford University; John E Kain, University of Texas at Dallas; and Steven G. Rivkin, NBER and Amherst College, "The Impact of Charter Schools on Academic Achievement"

Discussant: Miguel Urquiola, Cornell University

Martin R. West, Harvard University, and Ludger WoBmann, University of Kiel, "Class-Size Effects in School Systems Around the World: Evidence from Between Grade Variation in TIMSS" Discussant: Joshua Angrist, NBER and MIT

Sarah Simmons and Sarah Turner, University of Virginia, "Taking Classes and Taking Care of the Kids: Do Childcare Benefits Increase Collegiate Attainment?" Discussant: Cecilia E. Rouse, NBER and Princeton University

Christopher Avery, Harvard University; Mark Glickman, Boston University; Caroline Hoxby; and Andrew Metrick, NBER and University of Pennsylvania, "A Revealed Preference Ranking of American Colleges"

Discussant: Bruce Sacerdote, NBER and Dartmouth College

Eric Bettinger, Case Western Reserve University, and Bridget T. Long, Harvard University, "The Plight of Underprepared Students in Higher Education: The Role and Effect of Remedial Education"

Discussant: Brian Jacob, Harvard University

Using new and unique administrative data from Georgia, Scafidi, Sioquist, and Stinebrickner analyze transitions from full-time elementary and high school teaching. Contrary to public perception, they find that new female teachers are not leaving the teaching profession for high paying jobs in alternative occupations. In their sample of female teachers, only 3.8 percent of elementary school teachers and 5.4 percent of high school teachers who left full-time teaching took a non-education sector job in Georgia that paid more than the state minimum teaching wage. This implies that less than one percent of new female teachers leave full-time teaching for a relatively high paying non-education job in Georgia after the first year of teaching. Other groups of teachers, including males, also have low rates of exits to relatively high paying occupations. Given that these results are in direct contrast to public discussion on the issue, the authors consult the 1994-5 Teacher Followup Survey in an effort to provide some independent validation of their conclusions. While this national survey of teachers does not provide direct evidence on what individuals actually do when they leave teaching, its circumstantial evidence in the form of motives and anticipated activities is strongly consistent with their results.

Charter schools have become a very popular instrument for reforming public schools because they expand choices, facilitate local innovation, and provide incentives for the regular public schools while remaining under public control. Despite their conceptual appeal, little is known about their performance. Hanushek, Kain, and Rivkin provide a preliminary investigation of the quality of charter schools in Texas. They find that average school quality -- measured by gains in student achievement in math and science for elementary students -- in the charter sector is not significantly different from that in regular public schools after the initial start-up period. Furthermore, the substantial variation in estimated school quality within the charter sector is quite similar to that of regular public schools. Perhaps most important, parents' decisions to exit a school appear to be much more sensitive to education quality in the charter sector than in regular public schools, consistent with the notion that the introduc tion of charter schools substantially reduces the transactions costs of switching schools. …