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IES Grant

Title: Implications of High School Course Availability and Course-Taking
Center: NCER Year: 2007
Principal Investigator: Iatarola, Patrice Awardee: Florida State University
Program: Improving Education Systems      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years Award Amount: $499,484
Type: Exploration Award Number: R305B070131
Description:

Purpose: Little rigorous research has been conducted to determine which high school courses improve student learning the most, whether and how the number of courses taken matters, whether all students benefit equally from advanced courses, and whether enrollment in particular courses increases or reduces socioeconomic and racial disparities in achievement and attainment. In this project, the researchers seek to identify factors associated with course offerings across schools and course-taking within schools, as well as the relations between course-taking and the following student outcomes: 10th grade achievement, graduation within four years of entering high school, and attendance at a postsecondary institution in the year following graduation.

Project Activities: The researchers will use data from the Florida Education Data Warehouse, a statewide longitudinal database that tracks students through Florida's public elementary and secondary schools, colleges, and universities, and into the Florida labor market. In addition to data on the learning outcomes of individual students, the Florida Department of Education provides school-level data on student composition, teachers, and expenditures. In this research project, the investigators focus on school and student data for eighth- through 12th grade public school students from 1998 to 2005.

Products: Products from this project include reports on the relation between course-taking and academic outcomes among public high school students.

Structured Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to identify factors associated with course offerings across schools and course-taking within schools, as well as the relations between course-taking and the following student outcomes: 10th grade achievement, graduation within four years of entering high school, and attendance at a postsecondary institution in the year following graduation.

Setting: The researchers will use data from the Florida Education Data Warehouse, a statewide longitudinal database that tracks students in Florida's public schools, colleges, and universities, and follows the students into the Florida labor market.

Intervention: In this Identification project, the research team is examining the relation between course offerings and course taking, as well as between course-taking and the following three student outcomes: 10th grade Florida state achievement scores, graduation within four years of entering high school, and attendance at a postsecondary institution in the year following graduation.

Research Design and Methods: To answer questions regarding student-level behavior, the research team is using multiple student-level panel datasets, including data on six cohorts of students who entered the eighth grade in each of the years 1998-99 through 2003-04. Four of the six cohorts are being tracked through high school and three of the six are being tracked into a postsecondary year. For the analysis of school-level differences in course offerings, the research team is using a panel of public schools in operation between the years 1998-99 and 2005-06.

Key Measures: The investigators are examining school and student data for eighth- through 12th grade public school students from 1998 to 2005. Using data from the Florida Department of Education and the Florida Education Data Warehouse, the researchers will create cohorts of eighth-graders and track their progress through high school. For each student, the dataset includes the following types of information: high school performance (e.g., 10th grade tests, graduation), enrollment in a Florida postsecondary institution upon high school graduation, background (e.g., race/ethnicity, poverty), transcript data for each year that the student was enrolled in high school (e.g., name of course taken), and characteristics of the school the student attended in each year (e.g., enrollment, expenditures).

Data Analytic Strategy: The researchers will analyze the data in two stages. The first stage includes: a school-level model of course offerings estimated as a function of student, school, and neighborhood characteristics, and a student-level hierarchical linear model of course-taking based on student, school, and neighborhood characteristics. The second stage involves student-level regressions of achievement, graduation, and postsecondary enrollment estimated as a function of courses taken, controlling for student and high school characteristics and middle school fixed effects. Estimates arising from an ordinary least squares regression will be compared to estimates from propensity-score matching and instrumental variables models.

Publications

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Conger, D., Long, M.C., and Iatarola, P. (2009). Explaining Race, Poverty, and Gender Disparities in Advanced Course-Taking. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 28 (4): 555–576.

Iatarola, P., Conger, D., and Long, M.C. (2011). Determinants of High Schools' Advanced Course Offerings. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 33 (3): 340–359.

Long, M.C., Conger, D., and Iatarola, P. (2012). Effects of High School Course-Taking on Secondary and Postsecondary Success. American Educational Research Journal, 49 (2): 285–322.

Long, M.C., Iatarola, P. and Conger, D. (2009). Explaining Gaps in Readiness for College-Level Math: The Role of High School Courses. Education Finance and Policy, 4 (1): 1–33.

** This project was submitted to and funded under Middle and High School Reform in FY 2007.


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