NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Are High Quality Schools Enough to Close the Achievement Gap? Evidence from a Social Experiment in Harlem

Will Dobbie, Roland G. Fryer, Jr

NBER Working Paper No. 15473
Issued in November 2009
NBER Program(s):   CH   ED   LS

Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ), which combines community investments with reform minded charter schools, is one of the most ambitious social experiments to alleviate poverty of our time. We provide the first empirical test of the causal impact of HCZ on educational outcomes, with an eye toward informing the long-standing debate whether schools alone can eliminate the achievement gap or whether the issues that poor children bring to school are too much for educators alone to overcome. Both lottery and instrumental variable identification strategies lead us to the same story: Harlem Children’s Zone is effective at increasing the achievement of the poorest minority children. Taken at face value, the effects in middle school are enough to close the black-white achievement gap in mathematics and reduce it by nearly half in English Language Arts. The effects in elementary school close the racial achievement gap in both subjects. We conclude by presenting four pieces of evidence that high-quality schools or high-quality schools coupled with community investments generate the achievement gains. Community investments alone cannot explain the results.

download in pdf format
   (1293 K)

email paper

A non-technical summary of this paper is available in the March 2010 NBER digest.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Digest by email.

This paper is available as PDF (1293 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w15473

Published: Fryer R, Dobbie W. Are High-Quality Schools Enough to Increase Achievement Among the Poor? Evidence from the Harlem Children’s Zone. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics. . 2011;3(3).

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Fryer w17494 Injecting Successful Charter School Strategies into Traditional Public Schools: A Field Experiment in Houston
Dobbie and Fryer w17632 Getting Beneath the Veil of Effective Schools: Evidence from New York City
Hanushek and Rivkin w12651 School Quality and the Black-White Achievement Gap
Page, Murnane, and Willett w14213 Trends in the Black-White Achievement Gap:Clarifying the Meaning of Within- and Between-School Achievement Gaps
Hoxby and Murarka w14852 Charter Schools in New York City: Who Enrolls and How They Affect Their Students' Achievement
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us