Friday, July 22, 2011

Harlem Children’s Zone Success Is Primarily Attributable To Good Schooling Rather Than Social Services

These are some VERY important findings regarding the debate over whether we should be allocating more resources to changing parental behavior vs. into schools:

Geoffrey Canada's Harlem Children's Zone is one of the most-discussed charter school ventures in America since it combined a "no-excuses" schooling philosophy with the provision of a lot of additional social services to in-need kids. Consequently, it exists in a kind of contested space between people who think we should improve education by trying to make schools function better and people who think that educational outcomes can be best improved by focusing on non-school factors.

A new paper in the American Economic Journal from Will Dobbie and Roland G. Fryer titled "Are High-Quality Schools Enough to Increase Achievement Among the Poor? Evidence from the Harlem Children's Zone" (plenty of ungated early drafts out here) suggests that the success of HCZ is primarily the success of a school:

Harlem Children's Zone (HCZ), an ambitious social experiment, combines community programs with charter schools. We provide the first empirical test of the causal impact of HCZ charters on educational outcomes. Both lottery and instrumental variable identification strategies suggest that the effects of attending an HCZ middle school are enough to close the black-white achievement gap in mathematics. The effects in elementary school are large enough to close the racial achievement gap in both mathematics and ELA. We conclude with evidence that suggests high-quality schools are enough to significantly increase academic achievement among the poor. Community programs appear neither necessary nor sufficient.


Harlem Children's Zone Success Is Primarily Attributable To Good Schooling Rather Than Social Services

By Matthew Yglesias on Jul 6, 2011 at 9:59 am

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