How Does Your Kindergarten Classroom Affect Your Earnings? Evidence From Project STAR
In Project STAR, 11,571 students in Tennessee and their teachers were randomly assigned to classrooms within their schools from kindergarten to third grade. This paper evaluates the long-term impacts of STAR by linking the experimental data to administrative records. We first demonstrate that kindergarten test scores are highly correlated with outcomes such as earnings at age 27, college attendance, home ownership, and retirement savings. We then document four sets of experimental impacts. First, students in small classes are significantly more likely to attend college and exhibit improvements on other outcomes. Class size does not have a significant effect on earnings at age 27, but this effect is imprecisely estimated. Second, students who had a more experienced teacher in kindergarten have higher earnings. Third, an analysis of variance reveals significant classroom effects on earnings. Students who were randomly assigned to higher quality classrooms in grades K-3 - as measured by classmates' end-of-class test scores - have higher earnings, college attendance rates, and other outcomes. Finally, the effects of class quality fade out on test scores in later grades but gains in non-cognitive measures persist.
We thank Lisa Barrow, David Card, Gary Chamberlain, Elizabeth Cascio, Janet Currie, Jeremy Finn, Edward Glaeser, Bryan Graham, James Heckman, Caroline Hoxby, Guido Imbens, Thomas Kane, Lawrence Katz, Alan Krueger, Derek Neal, Jonah Rockoff, Douglas Staiger, numerous seminar participants, and anonymous referees for helpful discussions and comments. We thank Helen Bain and Jayne Zaharias at HEROS for access to the Project STAR data. The tax data were accessed through contract TIRNO-09-R-00007 with the Statistics of Income (SOI) Division at the US Internal Revenue Service. Gregory Bruich, Jane Choi, Jessica Laird, Keli Liu, Laszlo Sandor, and Patrick Turley provided outstanding research assistance. Financial support from the Lab for Economic Applications and Policy at Harvard, the Center for Equitable Growth at UC Berkeley, and the National Science Foundation is gratefully acknowledged. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Raj Chetty & John N. Friedman & Nathaniel Hilger & Emmanuel Saez & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach & Danny Yagan, 2011. "How Does Your Kindergarten Classroom Affect Your Earnings? Evidence from Project Star," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(4), pages 1593-1660. citation courtesy of