The Long-Run Impacts of Specialized Programming for High-Achieving Students

Peer-reviewed Publication

Sarah R. Cohodes

February 2020

The author evaluates long-run academic impacts of specialized programming for high-achieving students by analyzing Advanced Work Class (AWC), an accelerated curriculum delivered in dedicated classrooms for fourth through sixth graders in Boston Public Schools. Fuzzy regression discontinuity estimates show that AWC has positive yet imprecise impacts on test scores and improves longer-term outcomes, increasing high school graduation and college enrollment. These gains are driven by black and Latino students. An analysis of mechanisms highlights the importance of staying “on track” throughout high school, with little evidence that AWC gains result from peer effects.