While most effects are positive, they tend to be
modest and fade over time—in addition, some mentoring programs can
Mentoring programs such as Big Brothers Big
Sisters of America have been providing positive role models and building
social skills for more than a century. However, most formal mentoring
programs are relatively novel and researchers have only recently begun to
rigorously evaluate their impact on changing at-risk youth’s perspectives
and providing opportunities for them to achieve better life outcomes. While
a variety of mentoring and counseling programs have emerged around the world
in recent years, knowledge of their effectiveness remains incomplete.
While a four-year college degree is financially
beneficial for most people, it is not necessarily the best option for
A postsecondary degree is often held up as the
one sure path to financial success. But is that true regardless of
institutional quality, discipline studied, or individual characteristics? Is
a college degree always worth the cost? Students deciding whether to invest
in college and what field to study may be making the most important
financial decision of their lives. The return to education varies greatly by
institutional quality, discipline, and individual characteristics.
Estimating the returns for as many options as possible, and making that
information as transparent as possible, are paramount in helping prospective
students make the best decision.
Universal early education can be beneficial, and
more so for the poor, but quality matters
There is widespread interest in universal early
education, both to promote child development and to support maternal
employment. Positive long-term findings from small-scale early education
interventions for low-income children in the US have greatly influenced the
public discussion. However, such findings may be of limited value for
policymakers considering larger-scale, more widely accessible programs.
Instead, the best insight into the potential impacts of universal early
education comes from analysis of these programs themselves, operating at
scale. This growing research base suggests that universal early education
can benefit both children and families, but quality matters.
Language development programs should focus on quality rather
than the language in which instruction is provided
More than 4.4 million students enrolled in US public schools
participate in English language learner programs because of linguistic barriers to learning in
regular classrooms. Whether native language instruction should be used in these programs is a
contentious issue. Recent studies, using credible research designs for estimating causal
impacts, find that bilingual education programs (which use some native language instruction)
and English-only programs are not significantly different in their impact on standardized test
performance. This finding suggests that it is time to change the focus from use of the native
language to program quality.
Avoiding segregation and compensating for parental disadvantage
can reduce migrants’ educational achievement gaps
As global migration flows increase, so do the number of migrant
students in host country schools. Yet migrants’ achievement scores lag well behind those of
their native-born schoolmates. Performance gaps are explained largely by differences in
migrant parents’ socio-economic background, cultural capital, and language skills. Education
policy needs to focus on language teaching, parental involvement, diversity training, and
beneficial social interaction between immigrant and native-born populations. With the wealth
of many industrialized countries threatened by a lack of qualified labor, education of
immigrants should be an important priority.