Economic Policy Review
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Volume 4, Number 1March 1998
Download full bookPDF135 pages / 878 kb

Excellence in Education: Views on Improving AmericanEducation
Proceedings of a Conference Held at the Federal Reserve Bank of NewYork in November 1997

To Our ReadersPDF2 pages / 20 kb
William J. McDonough
Summary of Observations and RecommendationsPDF4 pages / 30 kb
Joseph S. Tracy and Barbara L. Walter
Creating a Performance-Driven SystemPDF3 pages / 22 kb
Rudy Crew
Session 1: Educational Resources and Outcomes

Conclusions and Controversies about the Effectiveness of School Resources
PDF17 pages / 124 kb
Eric A. Hanushek

Although a majority of parents, educators, and policymakers report that their own schools are doing well, many believe that the U.S. education system as a whole is in trouble. The author points out that in the past decade an increasing amount of resources have been devoted to education, but U.S. students have continued to underperform students in other countries. To improve the effectiveness of spending, the author advocates radically different incentives for students and school personnel and better measures of student performance.
Reassessing the View that American Schools Are BrokenPDF15 pages / 104 kb
Alan B. Krueger

The author evaluates the popular belief that the U.S. public school system is flawed and can be corrected only through fundamental changes in the institutions governing education. He finds that the system is not inherently flawed, and may actually be reasonably effective. Based on these findings, he offers incremental proposals to improve U.S. schools.
Summary of Floor DiscussionPDF2 pages / 15 kb
Carol Rapaport
Session 2: Competition and Choice in Education

What Do America's "Traditional" Forms of School Choice Teach Us about School Choice Reforms?

PDF13 pages / 89 kb
Caroline M. Hoxby

The author explores the effectiveness of the two most-established forms of school choice in the United States—choice among public school districts and the choice between public and private schools. She finds that traditional school choice improves the quality of schooling by increasing competition among schools. An additional benefit, the author argues, is that parents who have greater choice are more likely to be involved in their children's schooling. The author concludes that lessons from traditional school choice will be important in analyzing school choice reform.
Schools and Student Achievement: More Evidence from the Milwaukee Parental ChoiceProgram
PDF16 pages / 106 kb
Cecila Elena Rouse

Using math and reading test score gains, the author compares the achievement of students in the nonsectarian private schools participating in Milwaukee's Parental Choice Program with the achievement of students in a wide range of Milwaukee's public schools. Her results point to the need for a better understanding of what makes a school successful.
Summary of Floor DiscussionPDF2 pages / 16 kb
David Brauer
Session 3: Public and Private School Comparisons

What Have We Learned about the Benefits of Private Schooling?
PDF8 pages / 52 kb
Derek Neal

The author summarizes the literature on the relative performance of public and private schools over the past decade and assesses what we have learned from these studies. Although many questions remain unanswered, the author concludes that private schooling—in particular, Catholic schooling—can raise graduation rates. In addition, the author finds that minority students in large cities have the most to gain from private schooling.
Measuring the Value of Better SchoolsPDF8 pages / 59 kb
Sandra E. Black

Several researchers have attempted to measure the value of educational quality by examining its impact on wages earned by students later in life. Adopting an alternative approach, the author of this study calculates what people are willing to pay to reside in a community with superior schools. Controlling for neighborhood characteristics and school financial inputs, she finds that a 5percent increase in the average test scores of an elementary school leads to a 2.1percent increase in the price of houses in that school's attendance district.
Summary of Floor DiscussionPDF2 pages / 15 kb
James Orr
Session 4: The Role of Educational Standards

The Two-Legged Stool: The Neglected Role of Educational Standards in Improving America's Public Schools
PDF20 pages / 139 kb
Julian R. Betts

The author notes that raising the school-leaving age and increasing the amount of spending per pupil have been extremely important public school reforms. However, he says, sizable improvements in school quality will only be evident when these two reforms are complemented by higher standards—and when students' abilities to meet these standards are tested.
Standards, Information, and the Demand for Student AchievementPDF8 pages / 49 kb
Richard J. Murnane and Frank Levy

Higher student achievement, say the authors, has been severely hampered by a lack of good information comparing achievement levels with today's labor market requirements. They argue that by obtaining this information—in the form of academic standards and assessments—parents can more accurately evaluate the quality of their children's education.
Summary of Floor DiscussionPDF2 pages / 16 kb
Margaret M. McConnell
Summary of Roundtable DiscussionPDF5 pages / 174 kb
Joseph S. Tracy and BarbaraL.Walter
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