Thurston Domina

School of Education
UNC Chapel Hill
119 Peabody Hall
CB 3500
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3500

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

NBER Working Papers and Publications

November 2019Teacher Effects on Student Achievement and Height: A Cautionary Tale
with Marianne Bitler, Sean Corcoran, Emily Penner: w26480
Estimates of teacher “value-added” suggest teachers vary substantially in their ability to promote student learning. Prompted by this finding, many states and school districts have adopted value-added measures as indicators of teacher job performance. In this paper, we conduct a new test of the validity of value-added models. Using administrative student data from New York City, we apply commonly estimated value-added models to an outcome teachers cannot plausibly affect: student height. We find the standard deviation of teacher effects on height is nearly as large as that for math and reading achievement, raising obvious questions about validity. Subsequent analysis finds these “effects” are largely spurious variation (noise), rather than bias resulting from sorting on unobserved factors ...
August 2014Experimental Evidence on Distributional Effects of Head Start
with Marianne P. Bitler, Hilary W. Hoynes: w20434
This study provides the first comprehensive analysis of the distributional effects of Head Start, using the first national randomized experiment of the Head Start program (the Head Start Impact Study). We examine program effects on cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes and explore the heterogeneous effects of the program through 1st grade by estimating quantile treatment effects under endogeneity (IV-QTE) as well as various types of subgroup mean treatment effects and two-stage least squares treatment effects. We find that (the experimentally manipulated) Head Start attendance leads to large and statistically significant gains in cognitive achievement during the pre-school period and that the gains are largest at the bottom of the distribution. Once the children enter elementary school, the...
August 2013Distributional Effects of a School Voucher Program: Evidence from New York City
with Marianne P. Bitler, Emily K. Penner, Hilary W. Hoynes: w19271
We use quantile treatment effects estimation to examine the consequences of a school voucher experiment across the distribution of student achievement. In 1997, the School Choice Scholarship Foundation granted $1,400 private school vouchers to a randomly-selected group of low-income New York City elementary school students. Prior research indicates that this program had no average effect on student achievement. If vouchers boost achievement at one part of the distribution and hurt achievement at another, zero or small mean effects may obscure theoretically important but offsetting program effects. Drawing upon prior research related to Catholic schools and school choice, we derive three hypotheses regarding the program's distributional consequences. Our analyses suggest that the program ha...

Published: Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness Volume 8, Issue 3, 2015 Distributional Analysis in Educational Evaluation: A Case Study from the New York City Voucher Program DOI: 10.1080/19345747.2014.921259 Marianne Bitlera*, Thurston Dominaa, Emily Pennera & Hilary Hoynesb pages 419-450

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