Here at Bridge to Tomorrow, we don’t shy away from either highly technical papers or explosive topics.
Today, we have both.
Here is the abstract from a recent working paper posted at the CALDER Center, “HOW HIGH SCHOOLS EXPLAIN STUDENTS’ INITIAL COLLEGES AND MAJORS”:
We use statewide administrative data from Missouri to examine the role of high schools in explaining students’ initial college and major placements at 4-year public universities. Conditional on a student’s own academic preparation, the high school attended predicts the rigor of the initial university, and within the university, the rigor of the initial major. We identify a relatively sparse set of school characteristics – and characteristics of schools’ local communities – that account for much of the explanatory power of high schools. Complementing previous studies, we show that students from low-SES high schools enroll in less rigorous universities than their similarly-qualified peers from high- SES high schools. Students from low-SES schools also enroll in less rigorous majors within universities. Black-white gaps in the rigor of the initial college and major can be explained entirely by students’ own pre-entry academic preparation and a small number of high school and neighborhood characteristics.
So if you are a high school administrator and you have told yourself that your students don’t need access to courses like chemistry, physics, precalculus and calculus because they are low SES, then you have made a decision that cuts them out of the most economically robust college majors.
As punishment, you should read the whole paper.