Saturday, October 21, 2017

Information, school quality and school choice

Here's a recent article by Gail Cornwall in The Atlantic, summarizing some of the work on school choice which points out that it is easier for parents to judge the test scores of graduates than the value-added by the school.

Why Parents Make Flawed Choices About Their Kids' Schooling
A new study shows that families act on insufficient information when it comes to figuring out where to enroll their children.

It covers (among other things) work by Atila Abdulkadiroglu and Parag Pathak and various colleagues, including the recent NBER working paper

Do Parents Value School Effectiveness?

Atila AbdulkadirogluParag A. PathakJonathan SchellenbergChristopher R. Walters

NBER Working Paper No. 23912
Issued in October 2017
NBER Program(s):   ED   LS 
School choice may lead to improvements in school productivity if parents' choices reward effective schools and punish ineffective ones. This mechanism requires parents to choose schools based on causal effectiveness rather than peer characteristics. We study relationships among parent preferences, peer quality, and causal effects on outcomes for applicants to New York City's centralized high school assignment mechanism. We use applicants' rank-ordered choice lists to measure preferences and to construct selection-corrected estimates of treatment effects on test scores and high school graduation. We also estimate impacts on college attendance and college quality. Parents prefer schools that enroll high-achieving peers, and these schools generate larger improvements in short- and long-run student outcomes. We find no relationship between preferences and school effectiveness after controlling for peer quality.

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