2006 NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellows

Eileen Anderson-Fye, Case Western Reserve University

Cultural Change, Mental Health & Academic Achievement

What are the relationships between mental health and academic achievement for high school students undergoing rapid cultural change (i.e. immigration and globalization)? This project investigates the relationship between mental health and secondary school achievement among African-descended and Latino Belizean adolescents undergoing rapid cultural change in Los Angeles and in Belize to pilot measures and gather data that will subsequently be employed in a larger, longitudinal comparative project addressing this question. In the Los Angeles sample, survey and interview data collected over the past decade with African-descended Belizean students, their parents, and their educators will be re-analyzed to examine the correlations and self-report links between mental health and academic achievement outcomes. In the Belizean sample, culturally appropriate mental health measures will be piloted and correlated with academic achievement outcomes. Ethnographic and interview data from over a decade of longitudinal work in Belize will supplement these measures. The data from the two field sites will provide a strong foundation for a future, comprehensive prospective longitudinal study examining the effects of cultural models on developmental trajectories of mental health and high school academic achievement. These data will inform educational policy and practice regarding student well-being among the current wave of “new immigration.”

Douglas Clark, Arizona State University

International Analysis of Students’ Knowledge Structure Coherence

The proposed study investigates students’ understanding of the scientific concept of “force” in Turkey, China, Korea, Mexico, and the United States. The study will contribute to the resolution of a central controversy among researchers of conceptual change regarding the structure and coherence of students’ science knowledge. The study will employ an analytic framework developed through ongoing research at Arizona State University along with two other analytic frameworks representing the predominant theoretical positions in the field. The goal is to apply and extend the analytic framework to provide a topological perspective (i.e., identifying coherence at different levels of behavior) for examining the integration of elemental and theory-like perspectives simultaneously. The study will contribute to this important theoretical debate by integrating multiple levels of analysis, allowing more precise questions to be addressed about the nature of students’ knowledge structures. This study will additionally clarify the role of methodological and semantic/cultural differences in the findings of researchers on opposing sides of the controversy. Finally, findings about differences in how students from Mexico and other countries think about science topics like force and motion in comparison to US English-monolingual students (who are more frequently studied) will inform the development of curricula that better support the underserved diverse student populations in US classrooms.

Joseph Crespino, Emory University

American Kulturkampf: Evangelical Christian Schools and Modern Conservatism

This project examines competing claims over the purposes and prospects of private schools in the United States since the Brown decision. It uses these debates as the centerpiece for a broader examination of race, religion and citizenship in modern America.

The dramatic rise of private evangelical Christian schools in the United States since the 1960s coincided with the struggle over the desegregation of American public schools, an effort that had its roots in the American South but which by the 1970s was clearly seen as a national concern. Debates surrounding the growth of private schools, many of them with religious affiliations, helped fuel the cultural and political struggle between secular liberals and religious conservatives. Critics of these schools characterized them as havens for right-wing, Christian fundamentalists trying to avoid public school desegregation. To their defenders, these schools were bulwarks against an increasingly secularized society that was hostile both to religious faith and traditional values.

This study uses a range of primary sources—including archival manuscript collections, government document, interviews and databases—to evaluate these competing claims about the nature and the impact of these institutions. It will pay particular attention to this debate as it was manifested in fights over federal tax policy towards private religious schools in the 1970s and early 1980s. The study has important implications for the study of public school desegregation, evangelical Christian politics and history, and the history of modern American conservatism.

Jimmy de la Torre, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Designing Assessment to Support Learning: A New Approach to Test Construction and Analysis

Assessments can be used not only to ascertain status of learning but also to further learning. However, current focus on accountability has overemphasized the use of assessments that lack diagnostic values. In contrast, assessments based on cognitive diagnosis models yield inferences that are richer and can facilitate learning. This proposal seeks to extend the applications of cognitive diagnosis modeling by introducing a general cognitively-based approach to test construction and analysis. Although the proposal focuses on multiple-choice assessments, minor modifications will allow application of the method to constructed response data. The first component of the approach prescribes how distractors in multiple-choice items, which can contain more information than the correct options, should be constructed. The second component describes how responses to these items should be analyzed using a proposed cognitive diagnosis model for multiple-choice data. Prior to investigation of its practical implications, several methodological questions about the proposed approach need to be answered. In addition to simulation studies, the project also seeks to develop and analyze a fourth grade cognitively-based multiple-choice assessment to gain a better understanding of the approach. The findings will be the basis for future practical applications such as studying how cognitively-based assessments can affect teaching practices and classroom learning.

Sara Goldrick-Rab, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Investigating the Postsecondary Transitions of Urban Public School Students

This study examines variation in the college pathways and transitions of urban public school students. Nationwide, over 50% of college students attend more than one institution and nearly one-third take some time off after starting college and later return. Yet postsecondary pathways are often conceptualized as linear and uninterrupted, understating a significant aspect of educational inequality. There is a persistent social class gap in college completion partly shaped by class differences in how students attend college. Using new data from the Chicago Postsecondary Transition Project on Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students, this study asks: a) What are the predominant postsecondary attendance patterns of Chicago public school students who enroll in college? b) In what ways are postsecondary transitions linked to race, gender, or social class? and c) How do the earlier schooling experiences of Chicago public school students shape their college pathways? This focus is unique— while most students attend nonselective institutions, many researchers utilize databases that restrict the scope of study to relatively advantaged students attending elite schools. Thus, this study will produce new theoretical and practical insights into the nature of urban students’ postsecondary transitions, and the role that early schooling plays in affecting later college experiences and outcomes.

Nora Gordon, University of California at San Diego

Competition for Contracts with Public Schools and Districts: How Much is There, and Does It Matter for Students?

Public schools and districts are increasingly turning to private entities to purchase goods and services, including curricula, data management systems, and professional development. When private providers face little pressure from competitors (monopoly is the extreme case), they have the power to inflate prices and/or reduce quality. The competitiveness of these markets thus has important implications for educational quality. I will gather data on and examine the structure of the markets for several of the main goods and services schools and districts purchase. Research questions include the following: (1) Why are some districts more competitive markets than others? Do demographic factors, such as language proficiency of students, limit the number of providers in a market? Do differences in local governance affect competitiveness? (2) Which goods and services lend themselves to more concentrated markets, and why? (3) What are the effects of a concentrated market? To what extent do contractors actually charge higher prices or offer lower quality goods and services when they have a greater share of the market? (4) Do these welfare implications differ if the contractors are not-for-profit versus for-profit, and how? (5) How have states and/or districts tried to promote competition through regulation? How should they?

Matthew Hartley, University of Pennsylvania

Advancing the Civic Purposes of Higher Education: An Examination of an Educational Reform Movement

What are the civic purposes of a college or university? This question has garnered considerable attention on American campuses over the past fifteen years. In the early 1990s, Ernest Boyer, then-head of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, voiced a growing concern shared by many that higher education needed “a larger purpose, a larger sense of mission, a larger clarity of direction in the nation’s life”. Of particular concern was the profound political disaffection of the American public more generally and college students specifically. In response to this crisis, prominent higher education associations have sponsored numerous national and regional conferences focusing on the public and civic purposes of colleges and universities and a number of institutions have actively sought to assert civic engagement as a defining feature.

The growth of Campus Compact, a national coalition of colleges and universities committed to civic engagement, illustrates the extent to which this idea has gained currency. Founded in 1985 by three college presidents, the association currently has more than 30 state offices and 924 institutional members—approximately a quarter of all postsecondary institutions in the country. Civic engagement initiatives have found a receptive professoriate. A 2002 survey of 32,840 faculty members found that fully 60% believed it is important to “prepare students for responsible citizenship.” One in five (21.7%) reported that they had taught a service-learning course (incorporating community-based activities into the curriculum) in the past two years.

The comprehensive and sustained nature of these activities has prompted some scholars to liken them to a social movement. Turner and Killian define a social movement as “a collectivity acting with some continuity to promote or resist a change in the society or organization of which it is a part”. Social movements are formed to advance certain ideals, have fluid membership, and their leadership is determined by the salience of competing ideas. Thus, studying a social movement requires not only identifying its networks of support but understanding the principals and values that have inspired action. At the heart of this study, then, is an examination of the contested purposes of colleges and universities in a democracy.

This study will chart the trajectory of the civic engagement movement over the past fifteen years in part through an analysis of member survey data from Campus Compact. These data provide important insights into the characteristics of institutions that have embraced this mission and the extent to which these efforts have been supported. A review of higher education association periodicals (e.g. Academe, Change, Diversity Digest, Liberal Education) and interviews with association leaders will reveal the strategies that have been employed and delineate shifts in the rationale for civic engagement over time. Finally, this study will look closely at a set of institutions to examine how they have attempted to institutionalize civic engagement in ways that serve their distinct institutional purposes.

Wendy Hoglund, New York University

Building Family-School Connections: Modeling Pathways to Children’s Educational Outcomes

Bridging connections between family and school ecologies has been identified as a critical ingredient of school-based prevention programs and educational policies directed at improving children’s educational outcomes, particularly for high risk children. Goals of recent educational reforms include making schools more inviting for diverse parents to promote parent participation in school-related activities. However, few studies have used experimental designs to understand how whole school approaches can causally influence parent participation and, in turn, children’s educational outcomes in the context of challenging inner-city environments. This project uses longitudinal data from a group-randomized, experimental evaluation of a universal, school-wide prevention program in 9 intervention and 9 control inner-city elementary schools: The 4Rs Program: Reading, Writing, Respect and Resolution. The 4Rs study is one of seven school-based program evaluations participating in a national network funded by the Institute of Education Sciences at the US Department of Education, in collaboration with the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control, and is also funded by the William T. Grant Foundation. The 4Rs Program is a literacy development and conflict resolution prevention program that is integrated into the language arts curriculum for all children in grades K-5. The 4Rs program includes a parent component that brings children’s in-class learning into their home environment through two sets of activities to expose parents to the 4Rs classroom curriculum: interactive home-based literacy activities (Parent-Child Connections) and parent workshops (Peace in the Family).

The current research project builds from the 4Rs focus on classroom and school ecologies and examines how family and school ecologies co-contribute to children’s educational outcomes, including literacy skills, engagement in class activities and regulation of aggressive, disruptive behavior in school. Specifically, parent participation in school-related activities, such as attending school events and assisting child with homework, is tested as a partial mediator of (1) the effects of family and school characteristics, such as family risk indicators and school social climate, and (2) classroom and school implementation of 4Rs and the 4Rs parent component on changes in children’s educational outcomes from grade 3 to 5. This project is well positioned to extend understanding of how universal, school-wide interventions can effectively engage diverse parents in school-wide strategies designed to promote children’s literacy and conflict resolution skills. This knowledge is critical for the development and implementation of intervention strategies aimed at bridging the family and school ecologies that jointly influence children’s educational outcomes.

Guanglei Hong, University of Toronto

Treatment Effect Estimation in Cluster Randomized Experiments in the Presence of Partial Implementation

This study will develop methods for causal inference for cluster randomized experiments in which educational innovations are implemented with varying levels of fidelity among experimental schools. In the presence of partial implementation, the intent-to-treat effect estimate—typically computed as the mean difference in student outcome between experimental schools and control schools—underestimates the effect of a fully implemented treatment. The project will focus on estimating (1) the effect of an innovation on students’ learning outcomes when the innovation is implemented with high quality, and (2) the effect when the innovation is partially implemented. I will contrast two different statistical perspectives on the implementation problem, and will adapt these analytic approaches to the multi-level data from the national randomized evaluation of Success for All, an influential comprehensive school reform program. I expect that methodological developments and empirical results from this study will inform program evaluation and program improvement.

Robert Kunzman, Indiana University

Religion, Home Schooling, and Civic Education: Implications for American Democracy

This project explores the philosophies and practices of conservative Christian homeschoolers, with a particular focus on the civic implications of this growing educational phenomenon. A threefold approach will be used: (1) investigation of the growing variety of civic education options for these homeschoolers (e.g., on-line chatrooms, textbooks, political campaigning); (2) extended qualitative inquiry into the actual educational experiences of students in their homes and communities; and (3) philosophical analysis of the implications of these findings for the broader civic sphere of American society. Federal studies indicate that homeschooling increased 29% between 1999 and 2003—ten times the rate increase of public school enrollment. A significant majority of these homeschoolers appear to hold a conservative Christian orientation, one that is increasingly focused on preparing children to wield political and cultural influence. The implications of this are deeply significant for our broader democratic fabric, particularly in light of America’s deep disagreements over how private beliefs should inform and shape the public realm. In addition to describing the broader philosophies and practices of conservative Christian homeschoolers, this study will raise important questions about civic education in the homeschooling context: To what extent is autonomous, critical thinking encouraged? Do these homeschoolers have the opportunity to interact with those who espouse opposing social, moral, and political perspectives? What relative emphasis is placed on citizenship as open-minded deliberation as opposed to strategic, unwavering advocacy? To the extent that American democracy depends on finding common ground, we need to better understand this growing phenomenon, and what it means for our lives together.

WanShun Eva Lam, Northwestern University

The Role of Transnational Digital Communication in Adolescent Immigrants’ Language, Literacy and Identity Development

This research study employs multiple methods to explore new forms of literacies and identities that are fostered in transnational digital communication. Specifically, it examines how adolescents of immigrant backgrounds and diverse national origins use the Internet to organize diasporic social relationships, access information and media sources, and develop linguistic skills and cognitive orientations that encompass multiple societal systems. The study is designed to investigate both broad patterns of transnational communication through surveys and focus group interviews, and specific processes of language and literacy acquisition through longitudinal case studies. The NAEd/Spencer fellowship will be used to support longitudinal documentation of how participation in transnational digital contexts affects the development of a sample of 15 immigrant high-school students in their use of language and literacy, ethnic identification, and global and cross-cultural awareness.

Data sources include bi-weekly collection of log files of the youths’ online texts and monthly interviews with the youth to discuss their experiences using/learning English and other languages online, social relationships with their online interlocutors, digital networks and literacy practices, and awareness of diverse cultures and world events. Inductive thematic analysis of the youths’ interview narratives will be triangulated with content analysis of the cumulative record of electronic texts to identify changes in the youths’ language/literacy performance, and with discourse analysis to examine how particular textual and interactional features in the youths’ electronic exchanges are used to signify their ethnic and cross-cultural identification. The research has implications for understanding global contexts of learning and immigrant adaptation.

Katherine Magnuson, University of Wisconsin – Madison

Going Back to School: Do Children Benefit When Mothers Obtain Additional Education?

Understanding the concurrent links between mothers’ and children’s school trajectories, particularly among disadvantaged families, is critical to discerning the consequences of policies and programs that support or limit parents’ educational opportunities. Although most adults complete their schooling before becoming a parent, it is increasingly common for parents, especially low-income mothers, to attend school. Research has found that parents with higher levels of education provide more enriching home environments for their children, and this in turn improves children’s early academic skills and school performance. However, few studies have investigated whether education that women complete after becoming a parent holds the same benefits. Are children’s academic trajectories improved if their mother completes an additional grade of school or a new degree? Using rich data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten cohort of 1998, this study will consider whether increases in maternal education during children’s early school years are linked to improvements in children’s home environments and academic achievement. It will also consider whether these effects differ by family socioeconomic status (family structure, income, and education) and by the type of education mothers complete (vocational vs. academic).

Patrick McEwan, Wellesley College

The Educational Impact of Large-Scale School Feeding Programs

Schools across the world devote enormous resources to the provision of subsidized meals. In Chile, a government agency provides meals to poor children attending publicly-funded schools. In 2000, it provided free meals to 785,065 students in grades 1 to 8, comprising 43 percent of total enrollments. The widespread support for school feeding programs suggests that impacts on student outcomes such as academic achievement are understood. In fact, there is virtually no convincing research in the United States, and only a few small-scale randomized experiments in several developing countries. This project assesses the impact of Chile’s large-scale feeding program on students’ academic achievement and school attendance. Free meals are provided to students attending schools with higher levels of poverty, as measured by an annual “vulnerability index.” Schools are eligible to participate if their index score is above a cut-off value. To estimate the program’s impact, I compare student outcomes in the vicinity of eligibility cut-offs. Ineligible schools just below the cut-off serve as the counterfactual for eligible schools just above the cut-off. Any difference in student outcomes can be credibly attributed to the school meals program, with several caveats. The research, an application of the classic regression-discontinuity design, will provide some of the first credible evidence on the educational impact of a large-scale school feeding program.

Margaret Nash, University of California, Riverside

Higher Education for Women and the Formation of Gender, Class and Race Identity in the US, 1840-1875

This project explores the role of education in the historical formation of gender, class, and race identity. I examine the types of education available to women, and which women pursued higher learning and why. I will analyze catalogues and reports from a wide range of educational institutions, as well as essays, diaries and letters in order to understand how formal schooling contributed to the creation of identities.

This project builds on my recent book, in which I argue that education became a marker of class and race as the white middle-class set out to forge and consolidate its identity. My new project asks in what ways the cultural meanings of education changed in the tumultuous decades surrounding the Civil War.

My goal is to trace the patterns of shifting alliances of gender, race, and class identities, and the role played by education in these shifts. I want to understand the ways and for whom acquiring an education marked class affiliation regardless of gender and race; the manner in which access to particular types of education marked gender or race, regardless of class; and the extent to which institutional leaders promoted education as a means to mark students’ status.

Alina Reznitskaya, Montclair State University

Student Thought and Classroom Language: Investigating the Connection

I propose to conduct an empirical investigation of the connections between 1) specific features of group interactions experienced by elementary school students and 2) individual student performance on multiple measures of argumentation. The study is designed to test increasingly influential, yet under-researched, theoretical assumptions regarding the role social interaction plays in individual learning. Processes of instruction and related outcomes will be examined concurrently, resulting in a comprehensive picture of argumentation development.

Argument Schema Theory (AST) will guide the proposed investigation. AST refines social learning models by integrating them with schema theory, an independent theoretical tradition. AST will be examined in the context of Philosophy for Children (P4C), an alternative educational environment that places social interaction at the center of its pedagogy.

The study will use pairwise random assignment to allocate classrooms to two treatment conditions: P4C and traditional instruction. Three discussions will be videotaped in participating classrooms at three time intervals. Numerical summaries of process variables will be generated from the analysis of discussion transcripts. Outcome variables will be extracted from pre- and post-intervention performance on individual argumentation tasks. The relationship between process and outcome variables will be examined through the use of regression-based techniques.

Aaron Saiger, Fordham University School of Law

Reimagining Educational Localism: Periodic Redistricting of Public Schools

American educational governance relies upon small, local school districts. Its localism is deeply entrenched. Localism commands ferocious support from powerful constituencies that reap its benefits. It also, somewhat more surprisingly, has been repeatedly endorsed by both federal and state constitutional courts. Nevertheless, localism is widely, and properly, identified as a root of educational inequity and distress. Given the intense economic stratification of the American metropolis, the localist paradigm guarantees that low-income students have few if any classmates who are not poor, which dramatically depresses their educational achievement. Isolating the poor in districts of their own also deforms educational politics, policy, and finance at local, state, and federal levels.

This critique of localism has led many to advocate that it be abandoned or severely curtailed. This conclusion, however, fails to credit localism’s virtues. In terms of sound public administration, schools are the archetypal “loosely coupled” bureaucracy, where agents—administrators and teachers—must apply unavoidably imprecise policies to complex, unpredictable situations. Students of public management will recognize the mismatch between this sort of governmental activity and central administration. Perhaps more fundamental are normative political justifications of localism. Social theorists and jurists have argued that school districts ought to be not just bureaucracies but polities, where a local community joins together to shape a public service that is the font of its hopes and values and the foundation of its civic culture. School communities ought to be local because their problems and goals are local.

This research seeks to reimagine American educational localism so as to mitigate its costs while preserving and even extending its benefits. Rather than define school district boundaries as geographically fixed, like cities’ or counties’, it proposes that legislatures and courts reconceptualize school districts on the model of electoral districts. Just as electoral boundaries are decennially revised in service of the one-person-one-vote principle, absent which individuals’ right to vote is vitiated, school districts would be periodically redrawn to ensure that each has a minimal level of economic diversity, without which some students cannot realize their right to adequate or equal education. The periodicity of redistricting would blunt the extent to which relocation decisions of relatively privileged families could over time undermine the goal of socioeconomic integration.

The analogy between schooling and voting, though imperfect, is robust enough to overcome resistance, particularly in the courts. Voting rights provides a familiar conceptual toolkit, reassuring reluctant judges that the setting of district boundaries is susceptible to judicial management. Moreover, the proposal respects the law’s (justified) commitment to localism as the foundation of both educational administration and the educational polity.

This research will operationalize a legal proposal for school redistricting; argue that it is legally sound, politically feasible, and normatively attractive; and assess its potential impacts on educational governance, education law, and metropolitan land use. In doing so, it will both advance a policy alternative that could greatly benefit children now stuck in impoverished school districts, and provide a lens through which to investigate several understudied costs and benefits of educational localism.

Beth Samuelson, Central Michigan University

Narratives of Educational Reform in Rwandan Secondary Schools

In Rwanda, a country where approximately 800,000 citizens were killed in the 1994 genocide, secondary schools today are widely considered high-stakes social institutions. Educational reforms of history curriculum, language curriculum and assessment policy are invested in preparing youth with vastly different experiences of the 1994 genocide to be leaders in nation-building for the future. The proposed project studies the stories that Rwandan secondary students, parents, and teachers tell of their experiences with these reforms. These stories can reveal how Rwandans view reconciliation and tolerance through the lenses of their social, economic and cultural conditions. The stories that teachers, students, and parents tell as they make sense of critical changes in education will shed light on how these reforms may contribute to or interfere with the building of a free and open society.
I will analyze narratives collected in Rwanda in 2001 and will return to Rwanda to collect new data for the purpose of testing and refining hypotheses. Variations in stories among distinct sub-groups of Rwanda society and deviations of these stories from official versions will provide a window into the processes of developing collective memory through narrative in Rwanda and beyond.

Kim Warren, University of Kansas

Education for Citizenship: African-Americans and Native Americans

This project is a comparative study of the history of segregated education and the development of American identities. The project chronicles the experiences of students and teachers in Native American and African American missionary, government, and public schools between 1865 and 1935. Educators expected all students to become “American,” but they expected different outcomes based on race and gender. I argue that Native Americans were to use their educations to assimilate, even disappear, into white society, while African Americans were to learn how to be workers maintaining a distinct position on the margins of white society.

In the second section of the project, I argue that Native Americans and African Americans had distinct ways of asserting themselves in response to the efforts of reformers. Native American students fended for themselves as individuals; African American adults acted on behalf of students, calling for improved educational opportunities and integration into white schools. The last part of the project demonstrates that when a generation of Native American and African American students became teachers themselves, they inserted race pride and ethnic studies into their curricular and extracurricular activities. In their new leadership positions, they redefined American identity for their students to include ethnic characteristics and pride as well as an effort to find positions within the dominant culture. The result of this study is an analysis of the meaning of American identity within two marginalized groups on a local and national landscape.

Tonya Wolford, University of Pennsylvania

The Effect of Spanish Fluency and Syntactic Processing on Reading In English

This project will investigate the influence of Spanish on learning to read in English among bilingual Latino elementary school children. The purpose of the research is to extend our knowledge of the relationship between Spanish language abilities and English literacy for these children. Most research into the effects of L1 Spanish on L2 English reading has focused on phonemic awareness, decoding, and vocabulary. In contrast, this project will investigate the relationship between syntactic complexity, fluency, and reading. Syntactic processing and fluency will be assessed through having the children read stories in English and translate them into Spanish. Spanish and English spontaneous speech samples will also be collected from the children. Their use of complex syntactic structures in the translations and in spontaneous speech will be evaluated in two ways. First, the children’s ability to translate accurately and fluidly will be correlated with standard measures of decoding ability and reading comprehension. Further, the children’s use of complex syntactic structures in the translations and in speech will be examined in light of both the quality of their translations and their standardized test scores. This study should provide evidence of the effects of syntactic processing skills and fluency in Spanish on literacy in English, in addition to further illuminating the cross-linguistic influences on syntactic processing among Spanish-English bilinguals.

Xiaogang Wu, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

The Household Registration System and Educational Attainment in China: A Causal Analysis

Scholars often link rural-urban educational inequality in China to the country’s unique household registration (hukou) system, based on which all citizens are designated as either rural or urban and entitled to different life chances. However, as hukou status is closely tied to residential place and family background, it is unclear to what extent the observed rural-urban educational gap can be attributed to hukou status per se, rather than to unobserved community and family heterogeneity. Moreover, since some children from rural backgrounds have been able to obtain urban status and have moved into cities after earning higher education degrees, the estimated rural-urban educational gap based on current registration status may be biased. This project adopts a new counterfactual framework and treats hukou as a specific government policy intervention in China. To assess the causal impact (treatment effect) of hukou status on educational outcomes, propensity-score matching methods are employed to analyze two sets of national survey data. Findings from the project will not only contribute to our understanding of the role of the socialist state in creating social inequality and social exclusion in China, but also have important implications for national policies on education, migration, and regional development.

The study is situated in the literature on sociology of education, social stratification under state socialism, and causal inference with observational data. The specific objectives of this project are:
To examine the rural-urban educational gap in China via conventional regression models;
To estimate the causal effect of hukou status on educational opportunities, including residential locations and family backgrounds, via propensity-score matching methods;
To investigate the change in the causal impact of hukou status on educational attainment by analyzing two sets of national representative survey data collected in 1996 and 2003.

The study will make potentially important contributions to the following fields:
1. Empirical understanding on how family background interacts with residential locations and government policies in affecting individuals’ educational opportunities, which will fill an important gap in cross-national comparative research on educational attainment.
2. Theoretical re-examination of the role of the socialist state in generating educational inequalities, as the hukou system is explicitly designed by state policies to exclude the rural majority from access to socialist benefits and life chances;
3. Policy suggestions on reform of the hukou system to address rural-urban disparities in socioeconomic development in contemporary China.

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