The Potential of Urban Boarding Schools for the Poor: Evidence from SEED

Last registered on February 05, 2017

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
The Potential of Urban Boarding Schools for the Poor: Evidence from SEED
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0001970
Initial registration date
February 05, 2017

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
February 05, 2017, 8:57 PM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Locations

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
Harvard University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Stanford University

Additional Trial Information

Status
Completed
Start date
2007-09-01
End date
2014-12-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
The SEED schools merge both the "No Excuses" charter model (publicly funded schools outside of the local school districts) and a 5-day-a-week boarding program (intended to provide a nurturing experience outside of the classroom), providing America's only urban public boarding schools for low-income students. The purpose of SEED schools is to close the racial achievement gap, which can have ramifications on health, cognitive development and school achievement.

Utilizing a random lottery when applications exceed the available admission slots, researchers report that attending a SEED school increases achievement by 0.211 standard deviation in reading and 0.229 standard deviation in math each year, although most of the impact is from female students. Students eligibile for free or reduced-price lunch have greater progress than those who are ineligible. Treatment effects for special education and non-special education students are not statistically different.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
, and Roland Fryer. 2017. "The Potential of Urban Boarding Schools for the Poor: Evidence from SEED." AEA RCT Registry. February 05. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.1970
Former Citation
, and Roland Fryer. 2017. "The Potential of Urban Boarding Schools for the Poor: Evidence from SEED." AEA RCT Registry. February 05. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/1970/history/13768
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
SEED schools are aimed to improve the quantity and quality of inputs to the education production function. However, four main potential costs of urban boarding programs are homesickness, stress, lack of positive parental support and loss of identity. Nevertheless, benefits include the safer, less volatile and less stressful environments; fewer negative parental and community interactions; availability of positive adult role models (i.e. teachers); less free time and availability of more nutritious foods.

The intervention include data from 1) files at the SEED school (which included the applicant's name, siblings at school, admission status, sex, race, free lunch eligibility, special education status, English learner status and family background variables) and 2) data from the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) (which included race, gender, lunch eligibility and math/reading achievement scores).
Intervention Start Date
2007-09-01
Intervention End Date
2009-06-30

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Math and Reading test scores
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The research design utilizes the random lottery that charter schools use in Washington D.C. Therefore, the lottery losers (who will not attend a SEED school but who applied) from the control group. Lottery winners are those who received the lottery number or offered admission off of the waitlist. Researchers analyzed a pooled sample from the 2007 and 2008 applicants. The 2SLS estimate, which
captures the causal effect of attending the SEED school for 1 year for students induced into enrolling by the lottery offer, is 0.211 standard deviations in reading and 0.229 standard deviations in math after controlling for baseline scores and demographics. Note that the difference between male and female achievement is significant for reading, with females driving the increase in test scores, although not significant for math. Additional results indicate that lower-ability students benefit more from SEED. Ultimately, researchers conclude that SEED schools have the power to eliminate the racial achievement gap in four years.
Experimental Design Details
Note that males are more likely to be lottery winners than females. SEED applicants are significantly more likely to be eligible for free lunch and less likely to be special education students. SEED applications have higher test scores relative to students in their own neighborhoods. Lottery winners are 9.7% less likely to be English language learners and winners are less likely to live with legal guardians (both at a statistically significant level).
Randomization Method
Admissions lottery by SEED schools
Randomization Unit
Individual
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
n/a
Sample size: planned number of observations
221 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
129 individuals treatment (lottery winners), 92 individuals (lottery losers)
[tables 1 and 2]
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Study has received IRB approval. Details not available.
IRB Approval Date
Details not available
IRB Approval Number
Details not available

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
June 30, 2009, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
June 30, 2009, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
n/a
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
No
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
221 individuals
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
129 individuals treatment (lottery winners), 92 individuals (lottery losers) [tables 1 and 2]
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?
No

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Abstract
The SEED schools, which combine a “No Excuses” charter model with a 5-day-a-week boarding program, are America’s only urban
public boarding schools for the poor. We provide the first causal estimate of the impact of attending SEED schools on academic
achievement, with the goal of understanding whether changing a student’s environment is an effective strategy to increase achievement among the poor. Using admission lotteries, we show that attending a SEED school increases achievement by 0.211 standard deviation in reading and 0.229 standard deviation in math per year. However, subgroup analyses show that the effects may be driven by female students.
Citation
Vilsa E. Curto and Roland G. Fryer Jr. (2014, January). "The Potential of Urban Boarding Schools for the Poor: Evidence from SEED." Journal of Labor Economics Vol. 32, No. 1, pp. 65-93

Reports & Other Materials