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]

  • 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-Publication 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 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 shortterm 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 nonSTEM 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 Abstract: development plans and postsecondary educational offerings.

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)

“The Unintended Consequences of Weighted Student Funding” [funded by Babson Faculty Research Fund]

“Predicting Textual Signals of Discrimination.”

“Signaling of Soft Skills in the Labor Market.”

“Human Capital Accumulation or Signaling? The Case of Giftedness.”

“Inequality from State-Funded Capital Investments in Schools.” (w/George Recck)

“Interpreting Student Opinion Surveys: The Role of Bias, Expected Grades, and Response Rates.” (w/ A. Bal, K. Hill, and J. Stillwagon)

“Altruistic Crowdfunding Donations in Education after Teacher Strikes.” (w/Zhi Li)

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