Advancing equity : the effects of higher education interventions for improving underserved students' educational outcomes
- Talented students from underserved backgrounds face many barriers to attaining higher education. Two of the most significant impediments are the low quality of primary and secondary schools they attend and the lack of access to top-tier universities providing sufficient financial aid and targeted support. Lower levels of educational attainment are linked to higher unemployment rates, lower earnings, and higher risk of poor-health outcomes. This dissertation builds upon the extant body of literature evaluating the effectiveness of large-scale interventions that pursue a more egalitarian, inclusive, and diverse educational system. Specifically, I assess the effectiveness of education policy efforts in (i) improving the quality of teachers to equalize low-income students' educational opportunities at earlier stages of schooling, and (ii) increasing the representation of low-income, high-achieving students at top-tier universities. My research is concerned with the effectiveness of education policy efforts in Chile, a middle-income country in Latin America with high levels of educational attainment but social class segregation of students that undermines the provision of equal opportunities. The country has implemented innovative policies and programs to address educational inequity, yet the impacts of these programs have not been systematically studied. This dissertation aims to fill this gap. The findings can be used by policymakers, university officials and administrators as well as governmental agencies. In the first paper, "The Effects of Educational Supports for the 'Missing One-Offs' in Vocational High Schools, " I study a two-year early-college program that prepares low-income, high-achieving students from underserved vocational public high schools to enter and graduate from the most selective universities in Chile. A growing body of evidence suggests that vocationally focused programs of study substantially improve high-school completion and longer-run economic success. However, the corresponding recommendations to expand vocational programs may have unintended, negative consequences for low-income, academically successful students who have the capacity and motivation to attend highly selective universities (i.e., the "missing one-offs"). This study contributes to the understanding of these issues by examining an innovative, college-preparatory program targeted to academically successful Chilean students attending vocational high schools serving lower-income communities. This program, Escuela Desarrollo de Talentos (EDT), provides academic and social-emotional support aligned with admission to selective universities. I examine the educational effects of EDT program participation using a fuzzy regression-discontinuity design based on its eligibility rules. I find that the EDT program did not increase the probability of graduating from high school but did increase performance in math courses. I also find corresponding evidence suggesting that EDT participation increased math performance on college entrance exams and shifted students away from further postsecondary vocational training and towards matriculation at elite universities. In the second paper, "The Effects of Priority Admissions in Elite Universities for High-Achieving, Low-Income Students, " I study the effectiveness of a special admissions quota program at the University of Chile, Sistema de Ingreso Prioritario de Equidad Educativa (SIPEE), that assigns seats to underrepresented students, prioritizing those from more disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds. By lowering the required university entrance exam score threshold, the University of Chile admits intellectually talented students who, due to their family or high school backgrounds, cannot surmount the barrier of minimum curriculum knowledge required by this exam. Based on the score threshold required in admissions, I use a regression-discontinuity design to assess the educational effects of the SIPEE program on its first four cohorts of beneficiaries (2012 to 2015). I find evidence that SIPEE eligibility increased the probability of underserved students' application to the University of Chile degree programs. Also, matriculation and retention rates significantly increased in seven of the 37 degree programs (commercial engineering, public administration, history, psychology, architecture, agricultural engineering, and engineering). Depending on the degree program, the increase in the likelihood of matriculation ranges between 0.3 and 2 percentage points, and the increase in the likelihood of retention ranges between 0.2 and 1.3 percentage points. Overall, the most effective degree programs in increasing matriculation provide academic support to ease the transition between high school and college for low-income, high-achieving students admitted via SIPEE. Teachers are one of the most important resources for equalizing opportunities and improving outcomes in schools. Unfortunately, a growing body of evidence indicates increasing quality-teacher shortages and that these high-quality teachers are unequally distributed among schools. Disadvantaged students are more likely to experience the adverse effects of teacher shortages and turnover related to this unequal teacher distribution. In the third paper, "Building a Teacher Pipeline: Evidence from a Merit-Based Tuition Scholarship, " I study a public policy that addresses the pipeline of Chilean teachers. This program (Beca Vocación de Profesor, BVP) provides a full-tuition scholarship for high-performing individuals who apply to university teacher education programs and requires them to teach in publicly funded schools after graduation. I examine the educational and labor effects of BVP program adoption using a regression-discontinuity design based on the program's merit-based eligibility rules. Using a comprehensive dataset that tracks individuals' progression from high school to higher education and to their future jobs, I assess the causal effect of the BVP program on the 2011 to 2014 cohorts of all applicants to higher education in Chile. As a result of the BVP program, I find that matriculation in teacher education programs increased by 2 percentage points (i.e., 25% of the total enrollees in the four cohorts), teacher degree attainment increased by 1 percentage point (i.e., 22% of the total of the new certified teachers produced in the four cohorts), and the number of teachers working in schools increased by 1 percentage point (i.e., 27% of the teachers working in schools from the four cohorts). The vast majority of these new teachers end up working in publicly funded schools. This represented 4,124 new teachers working in publicly funded schools due to BVP program eligibility and 56,324 new teachers as a result of actually receiving the BVP scholarship. In the first four cohorts of grantees, the resulting supply of teachers increased by almost 30 percent. This study contributes valuable empirical evidence to the policy debate surrounding effective ways to improve teachers' recruitment and the allocation of higher-quality teachers to under-resourced schools. This research has implications for how selective universities can play a more active role in mitigating achievement gaps rooted in unequal educational opportunities and meet goals for increasing student body diversity. Similarly, policies that increase the number of quality teachers and promote their early assignment to public schools have the potential to improve learning opportunities, especially for marginalized students. The conclusions of this dissertation contribute policy-relevant information on the effectiveness of programs designed to equalize educational opportunities and improve academic outcomes for underserved students.
|Type of resource
|electronic resource; remote; computer; online resource
|1 online resource.
|Dee, Thomas S. (Thomas Sean)
|Dee, Thomas S. (Thomas Sean)
|Degree committee member
|Degree committee member
|Stanford University, Graduate School of Education
|Statement of responsibility
|Graciela I. Pérez Núñez.
|Submitted to the Graduate School of Education.
|Thesis Ph.D. Stanford University 2020.
- © 2020 by Graciela Perez
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).
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