Interests: child and family policy, early childhood education, parental wellbeing and labor market outcomes, economics of gender

Working Papers

[1] Baby bumps in the road: The impact of parenthood on job performance, human capital, and career advancement (with Jennifer Heissel). Job Market Paper. Submitted.

This paper explores whether and why a maternal "child penalty" to earnings would emerge even without changes in employment and hours worked. Using a matched event study design, we trace monthly changes in determinants of wages (job performance, human capital accumulation, and promotions). Data come from a usefully unusual setting with required multiyear employment and detailed personnel data: the United States Marine Corps. Mothers’ job performance initially declines and gaps in promotion grow through 24 months postbirth. Fathers’ physical fitness performance drops somewhat but recovers. These patterns lead mothers to earn relatively lower wages, even absent changes in employment postbirth.

[2] Variation in teacher quality over the preschool year and its implications for early childhood education accountability systems (with Kathryn Gonzalez, Luke Miratrix, and Terri Sabol). Submitted.

Accountability systems designed to monitor and enhance early childhood education program quality increasingly rely on observational ratings of teachers' skills. The present study explores variation in teachers' quality ratings during the school year and its implications for the accuracy of accountability evaluations. We use an unusually rich data set with 2,803 observational ratings of 303 preschool teachers spread across the school year to characterize patterns of growth and decline in teacher quality ratings, as measured by the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASSTM ). We then quantify whether time trends in CLASS ratings explain overall within-teacher variability in scores. Last, we simulate accountability outcomes under the federal Head Start accountability policy, based on the time of year a program's teachers are assessed. Results show teacher quality ratings decline during the beginning of the school year; improve during the winter; and plateau in the spring. This pattern is particularly pronounced for instructional support CLASS ratings, which capture how well teachers foster students' higher-order thinking. Seasonal variation in instructional support ratings explain 24% of the overall variability in teachers' scores. We find especially large differences in the likelihood of failing a Head Start accountability review due to time-patterned variation in instructional support scores.

[3] Targeted public pre-K and the broader child care market in Illinois.

This paper explores how early care and education providers respond to the expansion of public pre-Kindergarten (pre-K) funding in Illinois. Federal, state, and local governments have increasingly invested in such programs, with the goal of increasing families' access to early care and education settings. However, it remains unclear whether public pre-K funding effectively draws new providers into the market for care and, if not, whether already established providers that receive public pre-K funds shift program operations in response to pre-K funding receipt. Using detailed longitudinal data on the universe of child care providers in Illinois, I identify what portion of public pre-K providers that receive funding are new to service delivery vs. already established. Next, among established providers, I compare changes in service delivery before and after public pre-K funding receipt to changes over time in observably similar providers, identified using a propensity score matching approach. I find Illinois’ pre-K expansion funds go to very few new providers; 75% of funded programs existed for 3 years or more before they were awarded funding. Among these, public pre-K funding increases the odds that a provider remains in business and increases the number of distinct child care sessions it offers for preschoolers. The latter finding is closely related to the nature of the funding, which covers only part-day care for eligible children. Findings on the impacts of public pre-K on funded providers begin to inform our understanding of how the early care and education sector responds to state pre-K expansion.

[4] The ups and downs of classroom quality over the preschool year and relations to children’s school readiness. (with Kathryn Gonzalez [lead author], Luke Miratrix, and Terri Sabol).

Despite considerable evidence on the links between average classroom quality and children’s learning, the importance of variation in quality is not well understood. We examined whether three measures of variation in observed classroom quality over the school year – overall variation in classroom quality, teacher-specific trends in classroom quality, and instability in classroom quality – were associated with children’s language, literacy and regulatory outcomes. We also examined whether variation in quality was associated with teachers’ participation in coaching. Results indicated that overall variation and instability in emotional support and classroom organization over the year were negatively associated with children’s regulatory outcomes. Participation in coaching was linked to increased variation only in instructional support. We discuss implications for policies focused on improving classroom quality.

Works in Progress

[1] Parenthood and health: Measuring the effects of maternity leave, paternity leave, and child care (with Jennifer Heissel).

[2] The impact of variation in access to child care on job promotion and retention (with Alexander Chesney, Jennifer Heissel, and William Sevier).

[3] Grandchildren’s spatial proximity to grandparents and intergenerational transfers of time and money (with Rachel Dunifon).