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Title page for ETD etd-07132016-101325

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Hong, Kai
Author's Email Address yuxiaolingxue@gmail.com
URN etd-07132016-101325
Title Essays on the Effectiveness of Educational Inputs and Organization on Student Achievement, Adult Behaviors and Longevity
Degree PhD
Department Economics
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Kathryn Anderson Committee Co-Chair
Ron Zimmer Committee Co-Chair
Peter Savelyev Committee Member
Tong Li Committee Member
  • longevity
  • adult behavior
  • student achievement
  • effectiveness
  • education input
Date of Defense 2016-06-15
Availability unrestricted
For decades, education research examined how to most effectively produce educational outcomes. This dissertation includes four essays that evaluate the effects of two educational inputs -- capital expenditure and skills in early childhood -- and two organizations of educational practice -- exam schools and grade configuration – on student achievement, adult behaviors or longevity. Essay 1 studies the effect of school capital expenditure on student achievement. I apply a latent factor model to data from Michigan and find that on average capital expenditures on construction, land and structures increase reading proficiency by 1-2 percentage points. Such investment is unlikely to be the optimal investment in terms of cost-effectiveness. Essay 2 studies the effect of socioemotional skill and college education on adult heath behaviors, such as smoking, and longevity. I use data from Wisconsin to analyze the effects of socioemotional skill which is measured at the time of graduation from high school by a structural equation modelling approach. I find that socioemotional skills contribute to the attainment of higher education and increase longevity by inducing behaviors which are beneficial for health. Essay 3 studies the effect of attending K-8 schools on student achievement. I examines data from a geographic quasi-experimental school closure program in an anonymous district in the United States. I find that a move to separate middle schools negatively affects student test scores; this effect diminishes by grade eight. K-5 schools are beneficial for students at elementary grades. Essay 4 studies the effect of selective exam schools on student exam performance. Exam schools admit students solely on the basis of pre-existing achievement. I use data from urban China and find no effect of attending elite exam schools but a positive effect of attending non-elite exam schools on student test scores. The results from these four essays suggest that education policy should focus more on improvements in educational inputs and investment in the development of skills through early intervention programs because of the positive, long-term effects of these investments. To improve student achievement through redesign of the organization of educational practice, we need to consider reforms other than K-8 and exam schools.
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