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Title:Equity in education: Assessing policy efforts in us schools
Author(s):Timmer, Jennifer Dee
Director of Research:Cimpian, Joseph
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Ryan, Katherine
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Lubienski, Sarah; Chang, Hua-Hua
Department / Program:Educational Psychology
Discipline:Educational Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
English Learners
School Lunch
Abstract:Schools are in a unique position to identify and address student need in order to ensure all children can fully engage in the classroom learning experience, and it is critical to understand policy efforts aimed at addressing these needs and how they might contribute to valued student outcomes. This dissertation consists of two distinct papers using quantitative policy analysis to examine efforts to provide student support and access to classroom learning. In Paper 1, I compare several different approaches (e.g., English as a Second Language, bilingual, dual language) to helping English Learners (ELs) achieve proficiency in English and access core curriculum content, as demonstrated by achievement on reading and mathematics standardized assessments. I use two nationally representative longitudinal data sets, the Early Childhood Longitudinal Studies, kindergarten classes of both 1998 and 2010, and utilize propensity score matching to perform a careful comparison of both the groups’ academic performance at each wave of data collection as well as achievement trajectories from kindergarten through third grade. I then perform sensitivity analyses to further ensure the robustness of the findings. I find that students in all settings generally demonstrate similar achievement in early elementary grades as well as similar growth trajectories, and findings are robust to the presence of all but the most extreme of possible omitted variables. Importantly, students in programs involving instruction in students’ first language did not demonstrate lower achievement than those in English-only settings. Finally, I discuss the implications of this work for informing policy decisions regarding services provided to ELs. In Paper 2, I examine a new federal policy expanding free school breakfast and lunch offerings, the Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which has particular importance for children from low-income families, and its relationship with student attendance. Specifically, I focus on the first three years the program was available in Illinois, one of the first states eligible for participation. I use a difference-in-differences ordinary least-squares regression approach to estimate the relationship between program participation and student attendance amongst eligible schools, and I then use an instrumental variables approach to examine the relationships between participation and attendance amongst all schools in the state. Findings indicate that expanded access to free school breakfast and lunch is associated with increased attendance at participating schools both overall and for several student subgroups in particular. As attendance is positively associated with other valued student outcomes, such as academic achievement and attainment, these findings are promising in highlighting how students can be positively affected by this federal policy effort.
Issue Date:2018-04-17
Rights Information:Copyright 2018 Jennifer Timmer
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-09-04
Date Deposited:2018-05

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