David Deming is an assistant professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research.
His research focuses broadly on the economics of education, with a particular interest in the impact of education policies on long-term outcomes other than test scores.
Recently, he was named a William T. Grant Scholar for his proposed project, The Long-Run Influence of School Accountability: Impacts, Mechanisms and Policy Implications.
His current research includes the end of race-based busing in Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.), understanding the rise of for-profit postsecondary education and the consequences for student outcomes, and the policy implications of expanding access to early childhood education.
The Long-Run Influence of School Accountability: Impacts, Mechanisms and Policy Implications Todays schools must offer a rigorous academic curriculum to prepare their students for the rising skill demands of the modern economy (Levy and Murnane, 2004). Yet as early as the publication of A Nation at Risk in 1983, policymakers have acted on the principle that Americas schools are failing. The ambitious and far-reaching No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2002 identified test-based accountability as the key to improved school performance.
However, ten years after the passage of NCLB, we know very little about the impact of test-based accountability on students long-run life chances. Implicit in the theory of action underlying test-based accountability is the link between achievement gains and improvements in long-term outcomes. Yet there are surprisingly few studies that make this link explicitly, and none that ask whether schools that respond to accountability pressure by increasing students test scores also make those students more likely to attend and complete college, to earn more as adults, or to benefit in the long-run in other important ways.
This study seeks to answer the following questions:
1.What is the long-run impact of test-based school accountability on postsecondary attainment and earnings? What are the distributional impacts of high-stakes accountability on long-run outcomes?
2.What are the mechanisms through which the implementation of test-based accountability in high schools can either complement preparation for college or substitute for it? What organizational structures and routines are present in high schools that are good at raising test scores and sending students to college? What organizational structures and routines are present in high schools that fulfill one objective well, but not the other?
3.How do the findings above inform the design of current accountability systems? Can we identify policies and practices that move toward complementarity between high-stakes and diagnostic measures of student success?
Evaluating School Performance Using Long-Term Measures of Student Outcomes, Spencer Foundation, (2011-2013) We study the sharp increase in school segregation following the end of court-ordered busing in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS). In 2001, the state Supreme Court declared CMS unitary, and the district could no longer consider race explicitly in the construction of school boundaries. Yet the neighborhoods in Charlotte remained racially segregated. Thus the redrawing of school attendance boundaries as contiguous neighborhood zones led to a marked increase in segregation in CMS schools (Mickelson 2005, Godwin et al. 2007, Jackson 2009).
Criminal activity in the U.S. begins in early adolescence and peaks at age 18 (Levitt and Lochner 2001), years when most American youth are enrolled in school. Thus, the school setting may have an important influence on criminal behavior during adolescence and into adulthood. We study the long-term impact of increased school segregation on crime by matching students enrollment records from CMS to their arrest and incarceration records from 1998 to 2010. In addition, we have obtained historical data on reported criminal incidents in Mecklenburg County that is geocoded to the exact address of the crime, which allows us to measure variation in crime in and around particular schools and neighborhoods.
Our results will have important implications for research on racial inequality. The most recent decade has been one of stalled progress in narrowing the black-white test score gap (Neal 2005, Magnuson and Waldfogel, 2008). It is important to know what role schools play in this lack of progress, and if their influence extends to adult outcomes such as crime.