Five SoE Faculty Author Top Ten-Ranked 2016 Articles in AERA Journals

School of Education faculty authored three articles ranked in the Top Ten by AERA in their listing of 2016 Most Read Education Research Articles.

Educational Researcher: #1 Most Read 2016

Science Achievement Gaps Begin Very Early, Persist, and Are Largely Explained by Modifiable Factors
Paul L. Morgan, George Farkas, Marianne M. Hillemeier, & Steve Maczuga

Abstract: We examined the age of onset, over-time dynamics, and mechanisms underlying science achievement gaps in U.S. elementary and middle schools. To do so, we estimated multilevel growth models that included as predictors children’s own general knowledge, reading and mathematics achievement, behavioral self-regulation, sociodemographics, other child- and family-level characteristics (e.g., parenting quality), and school-level characteristics (e.g., racial, ethnic, and economic composition; school academic climate). Analyses of a longitudinal sample of 7,757 children indicated large gaps in general knowledge already evident at kindergarten entry. Kindergarten general knowledge was the strongest predictor of first-grade general knowledge, which in turn was the strongest predictor of children’s science achievement from third to eighth grade. Large science achievement gaps were evident when science achievement measures first became available in third grade. These gaps persisted until at least the end of eighth grade. Most or all of the observed science achievement gaps were explained by the study’s many predictors. Efforts to address science achievement gaps in the United States likely require intensified early intervention efforts, particularly those delivered before the primary grades. If unaddressed, science achievement gaps emerge by kindergarten and continue until at least the end of eighth grade.

American Education Research Journal: #2 Most Read 2016

Exploring the For-Profit Experience: An Ethnography of a For-Profit College
Constance Iloh

Abstract: The for-profit college sector is arguably the most controversial and least understood sector of higher education today. The past decade has ushered in a wealth of public concern and scrutiny as to whether for-profit colleges and universities are providing a quality education to underserved student populations. While their politicization has captured immense attention, there is far less empirical research on student experiences at for-profit institutions to better inform conceptual, institutional, and practical understanding of this sector of postsecondary education. Using ethnographic data from one midsize for-profit college in a suburban city, the author spent seven months exploring educational culture from the perspective of enrolled students. The findings illuminate four themes: (a) student desire for institutional transparency, (b) the perception of high-quality in-person instruction, (c) varied experiences based on student schedule and learning needs, and (d) the role of age in shaping peer interactions.

Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis: #9 Most Read 2016

Head Start at Ages 3 and 4 Versus Head Start Followed by State Pre-K: Which Is More Effective?
Jade Marcus Jenkins, George Farkas, Greg J. Duncan, Margaret Burchinal, Deborah Lowe Vandell

Abstract: As policymakers contemplate expanding preschool opportunities for low-income children, one possibility is to fund 2, rather than 1 year of Head Start for children at ages 3 and 4. Another option is to offer 1 year of Head Start followed by 1 year of pre-K. We ask which of these options is more effective. We use data from the Oklahoma pre-K study to examine these two “pathways” into kindergarten using regression discontinuity to estimate the effects of each age 4 program, and propensity score weighting to address selection. We find that children attending Head Start at age 3 develop stronger prereading skills in a high-quality pre-kindergarten at age 4 compared with attending Head Start at age 4. Pre-K and Head Start were not differentially linked to improvements in children’s prewriting skills or premath skills. This suggests that some impacts of early learning programs may be related to the sequencing of learning experiences to more academic programming.