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Three Essays on the Impacts of Education Policies and Food Nutrition Facts Panel
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This dissertation consists of three essays that examine how changes in education and nutrition policies affect student college readiness and school performance and help consumers make informed food choices. The first essay analyzes the effect of standardized testing, the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) and Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), on high school students’ college readiness in Texas. We examine how STAAR/TAKS Math and English Language Arts (ELA) passing rates, and schools’ demographics characteristics affect high school students’ college readiness using data from 2009 to 2016. We also examine differences between urban and rural communities. The major findings from this essay are: (1) the STAAR test has been more effective than the TAKS test in getting students college ready; (2) schools’ demographic characteristics play an important role in predicting college readiness; (3) notable differences are observed between urban and rural schools with respect to SAT/ACT scores, college enrollment rate, and high school graduation rate, but not for standardized tests passing rates. The second essay examines how the new A-F accountability rating system affects Texas high schools’ academic performance in the short-run. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) employs accountability rating system to rate and evaluate public schools and districts. In 2018, Texas adopted the new A-F rating system and became the one of 17 U.S. states currently using this rating system. In this essay, both school and district-level data were used to evaluate how accountability rating grades affect Texas public high schools’ STAAR test passing rates. The results show that the new A-F accountability rating system has a positive effect on students’ STAAR performance, especially in mathematics testing for low-performing schools and districts. The effect is highly significant for schools which received an F rating in 2016. The overall effects are stronger on Math than ELA. The third essay examines how the new Nutrition Facts Panel (NFP) on packaged food affects households’ food purchases. The new version of the NFP was released in May 2016 and was intended to help consumers to better understand the nutrition content of foods available to them and make informed food choices. The new NFP discloses added sugar and Vitamin D. The font size of calorie amount is larger and bolder on the new NFP, and calories from fat was removed from it. In this study, we use 100% juices and other juices as a case study, to evaluate how the adoption of the new NFP affects households’ demand for juices by comparing household juice purchases pre and post label adoption. Nielsen Homescan Data and Label Insight data were used to conduct the analysis. The estimation results show that sales of 100% juice increased after manufacturers adopted the new NFP, whereas the other juices demonstrate a decreasing trend. Demographics did not play an important role, except for strong regional effects.
accountability rating system
Jiang, Meng (2020). Three Essays on the Impacts of Education Policies and Food Nutrition Facts Panel. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from