Bergman, Peter and Chan, Eric “Leveraging Parents through Low-Cost Technology: The Impact of High-Frequency Information on Student Achievement” [Accepted, Journal of Human Resources]. [Pre-Publication Version] [Published Online Version]

  • Abstract: We partnered a low-cost communication technology with school information systems to automate the gathering and provision of information on students’ academic progress to parents of middle and high school students. We sent weekly, automated alerts to parents about their child’s missed assignments, grades, and class absences. The alerts reduced course failures by 28%, increased class attendance by 12%, and increased student retention, though there was no impact on state test scores. There were larger effects for below-median GPA students and high school students. We sent over 32,000 messages at a variable cost of $63

Chan, Eric. “Preschool for All?: Enrollment and Maternal Labor Supply Implications of a Bilingual Preschool Mandate.” [Accepted, Applied Economics]. [Pre-Published Version] [Published Online Version]

  • Abstract: Previous experimental and rigorous research support the effectiveness of preschool in various contexts, yet there is limited evidence whether universal-type pre-K policies induce changes in enrollment. While certain states have enacted universal pre-K policies, some have also considered bilingual pre-K mandates, either as a supplementary or stand-alone policy, requiring schools to open up bilingual classrooms for children from non-English speaking families. The question of whether these policies on bilingual pre-K can induce enrollment and close achievement gaps between English language learners and English speakers is particular important today for urban cities and states with large immigrant populations, such as New York City and Texas. In this study, I exploit exogenous variation from the first bilingual prekindergarten mandate in Illinois to estimate the causal effects on preschool enrollment and maternal labor supply of recently immigrated and Hispanic families. Utilizing a difference-in-differences (DD) empirical strategy, estimates suggest significant effects on pre-K enrollment between 18-20 percent and no effects of increasing maternal labor supply in Illinois. Using multiple DD specifications, estimates are robust to various control groups and timeframes. I use this analysis to further discuss whether universal pre-K policies are designed sufficiently for access and inclusion of various student types, and contribute to our understanding on the effectiveness of using child care subsidies to increase welfare of low-income families.

Chan, Eric. “Heterogeneous Parental Responses to Education Quality ” [submitted]

  • Abstract: This paper contributes evidence on whether parental investment inputs are complements or substitutes to educational quality. Using exogenous variation induced by identification into a gifted and talented program, I find no significant effects on parental behavior as a result of their child’s access to a higher quality education. However, there are heterogeneous effects. Responses are particularly strong for minority and low-income, finding that they tend to be complementary to education quality. I also find significant demographic heterogeneity in the trade-off between investments in paid tutoring and in-home homework help. Implications of these results suggest that parental investments are not necessarily a strict complement or substitute, but is nuanced dependent on family context and other demographic factors. These results have strong implications on indirect policy effects of education production functions. I argue that the mechanism at play is based on parental beliefs, cultural factors, and the interaction between the two.

Lundy-Wagner, Valerie and Chan, Eric.Classifying STEM Programs in Community Colleges to Develop a State-Level Middle-Skill STEM Workforce Strategy” (Working Paper). New York City, NY: Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment. [working paper]

  • Abstract: Calls to increase the number of undergraduate STEM credential recipients have largely failed to differentiate between sub-baccalaureate and four-year credentials at the undergraduate level, which is problematic for workforce development. In this paper, the authors develop a classification system for sub-baccalaureate STEM credentials that is incorporated into an analysis of administrative data from the Virginia Community College System. The authors first describe sub-baccalaureate STEM students and then examine the relationships between STEM matriculation and short-term outcomes for six cohorts. The authors use Mincerian regressions to estimate the earnings associated with completing a STEM credential four years after initial enrollment. In addition to confirming that students with career-oriented credentials drive short term STEM earnings benefits, and that full-time students are more likely to complete credentials than their part-time peers, this study also finds relative homogeneity between STEM and non STEM community college students, suggesting that ability may not be the primary factor inhibiting middle-skill STEM workforce preparation. The authors conclude by discussing the findings and suggesting how these data could be useful in better aligning Virginia’s economic development plans and postsecondary educational offerings.

“Assessing the Effects of Gifted and Talented Programs: Evolution and Complexities.” [submitted]

  • Abstract: Gifted and talented education programs provide a specialized education targeted at students with high intelligence and other ability characteristics. Despite the prevalence of these programs across the US, there is little federal guidance on access, structure, funding, and assessment of such programs. The lingering issue behind this limitation is that researchers have yet to understand the education production function for gifted education programs and whether it can improve achievement outcomes. This systematic review summarize the evolution of economics research on the effects of gifted education, synthesizes its implications and limitations, and provides directions for future research. The evolution of scholarly research in this area clearly display complexities and limitations due to restrictions on how to isolate the effect of single variables, yet there is potential for inroads toward causal estimates in the near future.

Wohlstetter, Priscilla and Chan, Eric (2014). “School-based Management.” In D. Brewer, & L. Picus (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Education Economics & Finance. (pp. 668-672). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.


“Improving School Choice through Informed Residential Choice: Evidence from a Large-Scale Randomized Trial.” (w/ Peter Bergman and Adam Kapor) [working paper upcoming!]

“Altruistic Donations and Public Sentiment for Education Financing during Teacher Strikes” (with Zhi Li).

“Human Capital Accumulation or Signaling? The Case of Gifted and Talented Programs.”

“Instructor Evaluation and Classroom Behavior in Higher Education: Evidence from Detailed Instructor Data and Experiments” (with Anjali Bal, Krista Hill, and Joshua Stillwagon).

“The Effects of State-Funded Capital Investments in Public Schools on Housing Prices, Neighborhood Demographics, and Inequality.” (with George Recck).

“The Follies and Promise in using Algorithms to Detect Discrimination”.

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