Schooling During the Great Recession: Patterns of School Spending and Student Achievement Using Population Data
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Published Online in:
AERA Open
September 25, 2019

Kenneth Shores, Pennsylvania State University
Matthew P. Steinberg, George Mason University

The Great Recession was the most severe economic downturn in the United States since the Great Depression. Using data from the Stanford Education Data Archive (SEDA), we describe the patterns of math and English language arts (ELA) achievement for students attending schools in communities differentially affected by recession-induced employment shocks. Employing a difference-in-differences strategy that leverages both cross-county variation in the economic shock of the recession and within-county, cross-cohort variation in school-age years of exposure to the recession, we find that declines in student math and ELA achievement were greater for cohorts of students attending school during the Great Recession in communities most adversely affected by recession-induced employment shocks, relative to cohorts of stu- dents that entered school after the recession had officially ended. Moreover, declines in student achievement were larger in school districts serving more economically disadvantaged and minority students. We conclude by discussing potential policy responses.

Read the full open-access article online here. 

Read the press release, "School Spending Cuts Triggered by Great Recession Linked to Sizable Learning Losses for Students in Hardest Hit Areas," online here