Type of Document Dissertation Author Murphy, Patrick Ryan Author's Email Address email@example.com URN etd-08032009-151246 Title Essays on Gifted Education's Impact on Student Achievement Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Economics, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Tim Sass Committee Chair Carl Schmertmann Committee Member Ron Cheung Committee Member Patrice Iatarola Outside Committee Member Keywords
- Student Achievement
- Economics of Education
- Gifted Education
Date of Defense 2009-07-23 Availability unrestricted AbstractIn the years following the No Child Left Behind Act, much of the research on education has justifiably focused on improving achievement of the lowest achieving students. More recently, however, there is growing concern that the most talented students may not be achieving their full potential either. At the same time, tighter budgets are now forcing cuts in the funding of gifted education programs. The purpose of this dissertation is to inform education policy by providing evidence of the effect that gifted education has on the student achievement of both participants and their typical peers. Empirical research on the efficacy of programs for gifted students could be used to guide policy decisions and make sure gifted students are also not “left behind”.
There are three self-contained essays in this dissertation. In the first essay (Chapter 2 of the dissertation) I estimate various achievement models for math and reading using the nationally representative Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class (ECLS-K) dataset. An indicator for gifted program participation captures the impact of gifted programs, holding innate ability constant.
The second essay (Chapter 3) uses a more detailed dataset to analyze a specific anonymous school district’s gifted education programs. In theory, the impact that gifted education programs have on participants is made up of several factors. First, the program’s content itself may increase student achievement. Second, the gifted teacher’s themselves may have a positive effect on a student’s performance. Finally, the grouping of gifted students may yield positive peer effects, which would boost student achievement outcomes. The goal of this paper is to decompose the total impact of gifted education programs into each of the individual parts in order to determine what factors are most important for the effectiveness of gifted programs.
In the final essay (Chapter 4) I look at the impact that gifted education programs have on regular education students. In order to determine the efficacy of gifted education programs it is necessary to determine both the direct effects on program participants, as well as any indirect effects on nonparticipants. Removing the gifted and talented students from the class may have several effects on those who remain in regular education classrooms. Having fewer students in the classroom may enable students to get more personal time with the teacher, which would lead to a positive impact on achievement. At the same time, the fact that the brightest children are pulled out will eliminate any positive peer effects resulting from their presence in the regular education classroom. The goal of essay three is to quantify the net impact of removing gifted students from regular classroom on those students who do not participate in gifted programs.
Initial results from Chapter 2 show a very large, positive, and significant impact for both reading and math gifted programs on student achievement in the relevant subject. When student fixed effects are included in the model to control for unmeasured student characteristics, the magnitude of the impact of gifted participation on math scores becomes more reasonable, and remains positive and statistically significant. However, in the student-fixed-effects model the effect of gifted programs on reading student achievement becomes statistically insignificant.
Results from Chapter 3 show that when student, teacher, and school fixed effects are employed to control for the influences of students, teachers and school-level resources, participation in gifted programs in general does not seem to have a significant effect on reading or math score gains. When participation is broken down by program type and the quality of teachers and peers involved in the gifted programs are taken into account, in-school gifted program participation has a positive, significant and quantitatively substantial effect on math score gains, while having no significant impact on reading achievement score gains. In contrast, participation in pull-out gifted programs appears to actually lower student achievement gains in math.
Estimates from chapter 4, which account for student, peer and teacher time-varying characteristics as well as both measured and unmeasured time-invariant student, teacher and school characteristics yield mixed results. The proportion of gifted participants has a positive and significant impact on math gains until teacher and school fixed effects are added to the model, after which the effect becomes insignificant and the signs vary. As for the impact on reading gains, the sign is always negative, but only significant once the teacher and school fixed effects are included. Other models, which account for both innate intelligence and the “pull out” out of these students from the classroom, show that the marginal effect of removing the brightest students from the classroom has a negative impact on regular student achievement. This negative impact remains significant for the reading gains even after teacher and school fixed effects are included.
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