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Ability tracking, school competition, and the distribution of educational benefits

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  • Epple, Dennis
  • Newlon, Elizabeth
  • Romano, Richard

Abstract

To study the effects of ability grouping on school competition, we develop a theoretical and computational model of tracking in public and private schools. We examine tracking's consequences for the allocation of students of differing abilities and income within and between public and private schools. Private schools tend to attract the most able and wealthiest students, and rarely track in equilibrium. Public sector schools can maximize attendance by tracking students. Public schools retain a greater proportion of higher-ability students by tracking, but lose more wealthy, lower-ability students to the private sector. Consequently, socioeconomic status is a predictor of track assignment in public schools. For the entire population, public-sector tracking has small aggregate effects on achievement and welfare, but results in significant redistribution from lower- to higher-ability students.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 83 (2002)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 1-48

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:83:y:2002:i:1:p:1-48

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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  1. Kenny, Lawrence W., 1982. "Economies of scale in schooling," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 1-24, February.
  2. Rees, Daniel I. & Argys, Laura M. & Brewer, Dominic J., 1996. "Tracking in the United States: Descriptive statistics from NELS," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 83-89, February.
  3. Manski, C.F., 1991. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: the Reflection Problem," Working papers 9127, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
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  8. Summers, Anita A & Wolfe, Barbara L, 1977. "Do Schools Make a Difference?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(4), pages 639-52, September.
  9. Laura M. Argys & Daniel I. Rees & Dominic J. Brewer, 1996. "Detracking America's schools: Equity at zero cost?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(4), pages 623-645.
  10. Zimmerman, David J, 1992. "Regression toward Mediocrity in Economic Stature," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 409-29, June.
  11. David N. Figlio & Marianne E. Page, 2000. "School Choice and the Distributional Effects of Ability Tracking: Does Separation Increase Equality?," NBER Working Papers 8055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Richard Arnott & John Rowse, 1982. "Peer Group Effects and Educational Attainment," Working Papers 497, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  13. Nechyba, Thomas J, 1999. " School Finance Induced Migration and Stratification Patterns: The Impact of Private School Vouchers," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 1(1), pages 5-50.
  14. Scotchmer, Suzanne, 1997. "On price-taking equilibria in club economies with nonanonymous crowding," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 75-88, July.
  15. Robert H. Haveman & Barbara L. Wolfe, 1984. "Schooling and Economic Well-Being: The Role of Nonmarket Effects," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 19(3), pages 377-407.
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