Categories for Societal Outcomes

Do Healthier School Lunches Have a Positive Impact on Students?

June 15, 2017

School Lunch Quality and Academic Performance

Providing children with nutritious school meals continues to be a topic of interest in education policy. It has been argued that a healthy diet can have a positive impact on childhood obesity as well as student achievement. However, there is little empirical evidence to support this popular intervention. A working paper released by the National Bureau of Economic Research offers insights to help policy makers decide whether to select this option as a way to make a difference in children’s lives. The study, a natural experiment conducted in California public schools, uses a difference-in-difference regression statistical analysis of data from a treatment group and a control group at two or more different time periods, pre-treatment and post-treatment. The study found no evidence to support a reduction in obesity, but it did discover that introducing healthy meals was associated with a 0.036 standard deviation increase in test scores. The improved student achievement, although small, makes nutritious school lunches a viable cost-effective intervention that can boost test scores. It is important to remember that this is a correlational study and thus cannot establish a cause and effect relationship between healthy eating and student achievement.

Citation: Anderson, M. L., Gallagher, J., & Ritchie, E. R. (2017). School lunch quality and academic performance (NBER Working Paper No. 23218). Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.

Link: http://www.nber.org/papers/w23218.pdf

 


 

The Cost of Suspensions in California Schools

March 21, 2017

The Hidden Cost of California’s Harsh School Discipline: And the Localized Economic Benefits from Suspending Fewer High School Students

This research from the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the Civil Rights Project, UCLA, and California Dropout Research Project shows that the overuse of suspensions in California schools is harming student achievement and graduation rates, and causing billions of dollars in economic damage. The financial consequences of school suspensions, including both additional costs borne by taxpayers as a result of suspensions and lost economic benefit, are quantified. The impact of school suspension varies widely by school district, with California’s largest districts incurring the greatest losses. For example, suspensions in the Los Angeles Unified School District for a 10th grade cohort are estimated to cause $148 million in economic damage. The report calculates a total statewide economic burden of $2.7 billion over the lifetime of the single 10th grade cohort.

Rumberger, R., & Losen, D. (2017). The Hidden Cost of California’s Harsh School Discipline: And the Localized Economic Benefits from Suspending Fewer High School Students. The Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the Civil Rights Project, UCLA, and California Dropout Research Project.

https://www.civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/resources/projects/center-for-civil-rights-remedies/school-to-prison-folder/summary-reports/the-hidden-cost-of-californias-harsh-discipline/CostofSuspensionReportFinal-corrected-030917.pdf