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Education Finance and Policy (2021) 16 (2): 183–208.
Published: 19 April 2021
AbstractView article PDF
We examine how students’ physiological stress differs between a regular school week and a high-stakes testing week, and we raise questions about how to interpret high-stakes test scores. A potential contributor to socioeconomic disparities in academic performance is the difference in the level of stress experienced by students outside of school. Chronic stress—due to neighborhood violence, poverty, or family instability—can affect how individuals’ bodies respond to stressors in general, including the stress of standardized testing. This, in turn, can affect whether performance on standardized tests is a valid measure of students’ actual ability. We collect data on students’ stress responses using cortisol samples provided by low-income students in New Orleans. We measure how their cortisol patterns change during high-stakes testing weeks relative to baseline weeks. We find that high-stakes testing is related to cortisol responses, and those responses are related to test performance. Those who responded most strongly, with either increases or decreases in cortisol, scored 0.40 standard deviations lower than expected on the high-stakes exam.
Includes: Supplementary data
Education Finance and Policy (2007) 2 (4): 376–394.
Published: 01 October 2007
AbstractView article PDF
This article proposes an unusual identification strategy to estimate the effects of disruptive students on peer behavior and academic outcomes. Because boys with names most commonly given to girls may be more prone to misbehavior as they get older, they may become differentially disruptive in school. In elementary school there is no relationship between names and boys' behavior, but on transition to middle school, a large gap emerges in behavior between boys with names associated with girls and other boys. Using boys' names as an instrumental variable, I utilize data on names, classroom assignment, behavior problems, and student test scores from a large Florida school district in the school years spanning 1996–97 through 1999–2000 to directly measure the effects of classroom disruption on peer performance. I find that behavior problems are associated with increased peer disciplinary problems and reduced peer test scores, indicating that disruptive behavior of students has negative ramifications for their peers.
Education Finance and Policy (2006) 1 (1): 1–2.
Published: 01 January 2006