NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Kalena Cortes

The Bush School
Texas A&M University
4220 TAMU
1049 Allen Building
College Station, TX 77843
Tel: 609/933-9415

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NBER Program Affiliations: ED
NBER Affiliation: Research Associate

NBER Working Papers and Publications

August 2016Match or Mismatch? Automatic Admissions and College Preferences of Low- and High-Income Students
with Jane Arnold Lincove: w22559
We examine the role of information in the college matching behavior of low- and high-income students, exploiting a state automatic admissions policy that provides some students with perfect a priori certainty of college admissions. We find that admissions certainty encourages college-ready low-income students to seek more rigorous universities. Low-income students who are less college-ready are not influenced by admissions certainty and are sensitive to college entrance exams scores. Most students also prefer campuses with students of similar race, income, and high school class rank, but only highly-qualified low-income students choose institutions where they have fewer same-race and same-income peers.
July 2015Apply Yourself: Racial and Ethnic Differences in College Application
with Sandra E. Black, Jane Arnold Lincove: w21368
Access to higher education begins with a student’s decision whether and where to apply to college. This paper examines racial and ethnic differences in college application behavior of high school graduates, using two recent graduation cohorts from Texas. We estimate racial and ethnic differences in the probability of applying to college, controlling for a student’s college readiness, high school quality, certainty of college admissions, and high school fixed effects. We then investigate racial and ethnic differences in the choice of where to apply. We enhance the typical model of college matching by considering the social setting and high school feeder patterns of state universities. We find that racial and ethnic gaps in application rates, particularly for Hispanic students, are not expla...
December 2014Efficacy vs. Equity: What Happens When States Tinker with College Admissions in a Race-Blind Era?
with Sandra E. Black, Jane Arnold Lincove: w20804
College admissions officers face a rapidly changing policy environment where court decisions have limited the use of affirmative action. At the same time, there is mounting evidence that commonly used signals of college readiness, such as the SAT/ACTs, are subject to race and socioeconomic bias. Our study investigates the efficacy and equity of college admissions criteria by estimating the effect of multiple measures of college readiness on freshman college grade point average and four-year graduation. Importantly, we take advantage of a unique institutional feature of the Texas higher education system to control for selection into admissions and enrollment. We find that SAT/ACT scores, high school exit exams, and advanced coursework are predictors of student success in college. However, w...
June 2014Intensive Math Instruction and Educational Attainment: Long-Run Impacts of Double-Dose Algebra
with Joshua Goodman, Takako Nomi: w20211
We study an intensive math instruction policy that assigned low-skilled 9th graders to an algebra course that doubled instructional time, altered peer composition and emphasized problem solving skills. A regression discontinuity design shows substantial positive impacts of double-dose algebra on credits earned, test scores, high school graduation and college enrollment rates. Test score effects under-predict attainment effects, highlighting the importance of long-run evaluation of such a policy. Perhaps because the intervention focused on verbal exposition of mathematical concepts, the impact was largest for students with below average reading skills, emphasizing the need to target interventions toward appropriately skilled students.

Published: Kalena E. Cortes & Joshua S. Goodman & Takako Nomi, 2015. "Intensive Math Instruction and Educational Attainment: Long-Run Impacts of Double-Dose Algebra," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(1), pages 108-158. citation courtesy of

 
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