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Is Gaining Access to Selective Elementary Schools Gaining Ground? Evidence from Randomized Lotteries

In: The Problems of Disadvantaged Youth: An Economic Perspective

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  • Julie Berry Cullen
  • Brian A. Jacob

Abstract

In this paper, we examine whether expanded access to sought-after schools can improve academic achievement. The setting we study is the "open enrollment" system in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS). We use lottery data to avoid the critical issue of non-random selection of students into schools. Our analysis sample includes nearly 450 lotteries for kindergarten and first grade slots at 32 popular schools in 2000 and 2001. We track students for up to five years and examine outcomes such as standardized test scores, grade retention and special education placement. Comparing lottery winners and losers, we find that lottery winners attend higher quality schools as measured by both the average achievement level of peers in the school as well as by value-added indicators of the school's contribution to student learning. Yet, we do not find that winning a lottery systematically confers any evident academic benefits. We explore several possible explanations for our findings, including the possibility that the typical student may be choosing schools for non-academic reasons (e.g., safety, proximity) and/or may experience benefits along dimensions we are unable to measure, but find little evidence in favor of such explanations. Moreover, we separately examine effects for a variety of demographic subgroups, and for students whose application behavior suggests a strong preference for academics, but again find no significant effects.

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This chapter was published in:

  • Jonathan Gruber, 2009. "The Problems of Disadvantaged Youth: An Economic Perspective," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number grub07-2, October.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 0586.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:0586

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    References

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    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
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    1. Lefgren, Lars, 2004. "Educational peer effects and the Chicago public schools," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 169-191, September.
    2. Hastings, Justine S. & Kane, Thomas J. & Staiger, Douglas O., 2005. "Parental Preferences and School Competition: Evidence from a Public School Choice Program," Working Papers, Yale University, Department of Economics 10, Yale University, Department of Economics.
    3. James J. Heckman, 2007. "The Economics, Technology and Neuroscience of Human Capability Formation," NBER Working Papers 13195, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. David Card & Alan B. Krueger, 1996. "School Resources and Student Outcomes: An Overview of the Literature and New Evidence from North and South Carolina," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 31-50, Fall.
    5. Donald Boyd & Pamela Grossman & Hamilton Lankford & Susanna Loeb & James Wyckoff, 2005. "How Changes in Entry Requirements Alter the Teacher Workforce and Affect Student Achievement," NBER Working Papers 11844, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    7. Jonah E. Rockoff, 2004. "The Impact of Individual Teachers on Student Achievement: Evidence from Panel Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 247-252, May.
    8. Evans, William N & Schwab, Robert M, 1995. "Finishing High School and Starting College: Do Catholic Schools Make a Difference?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 110(4), pages 941-74, November.
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    11. Card, David & Payne, A. Abigail, 2002. "School finance reform, the distribution of school spending, and the distribution of student test scores," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 49-82, January.
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    13. James J. Heckman & Dimitriy V. Masterov, 2007. "The Productivity Argument for Investing in Young Children," NBER Working Papers 13016, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Zimmerman, David J., 1999. "Peer Effects in Academic Outcomes: Evidence From a Natural Experiment," Williams Project on the Economics of Higher Education, Department of Economics, Williams College DP-52, Department of Economics, Williams College.
    15. Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain & Steven G. Rivkin & Daniel M. O'Brien, 2005. "The Market for Teacher Quality," Discussion Papers, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research 04-025, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    16. Cecilia Elena Rouse, 1998. "Private School Vouchers And Student Achievement: An Evaluation Of The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 113(2), pages 553-602, May.
    17. Joseph G. Altonji & Todd E. Elder & Christopher R. Taber, 2005. "An Evaluation of Instrumental Variable Strategies for Estimating the Effects of Catholic Schooling," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(4), pages 791-821.
    18. Julie Berry Cullen & Brian A Jacob & Steven Levitt, 2006. "The Effect of School Choice on Participants: Evidence from Randomized Lotteries," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 74(5), pages 1191-1230, 09.
    19. Thomas J. Kane & Jonah E. Rockoff & Douglas O. Staiger, 2006. "What Does Certification Tell Us About Teacher Effectiveness? Evidence from New York City," NBER Working Papers 12155, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    21. Joseph G. Altonji & Todd E. Elder & Christopher R. Taber, 2002. "An Evaluation of Instrumental Variable Strategies for Estimating the Effects of Catholic Schools," NBER Working Papers 9358, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    24. Justine S. Hastings & Thomas J. Kane & Douglas O. Staiger, 2006. "Preferences and Heterogeneous Treatment Effects in a Public School Choice Lottery," NBER Working Papers 12145, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:
    1. Richard Buddin & Gema Zamarro, 2009. "Teacher Effectiveness in Urban High Schools," Working Papers, RAND Corporation Publications Department 693, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
    2. Buddin, Richard & Zamarro, Gema, 2009. "Teacher qualifications and student achievement in urban elementary schools," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 103-115, September.
    3. Abdulkadiroğlu, Atila & Angrist, Joshua & Pathak, Parag A., 2012. "The Elite Illusion: Achievement Effects at Boston and New York Exam Schools," IZA Discussion Papers 6790, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. David J. Deming & Justine S. Hastings & Thomas J. Kane & Douglas O. Staiger, 2014. "School Choice, School Quality, and Postsecondary Attainment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 104(3), pages 991-1013, March.
    5. Richard Buddin & Gema Zamarro, 2009. "Teacher Qualifications and Middle School Student Achievement," Working Papers, RAND Corporation Publications Department 671, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
    6. Richard Buddin & Gena Zamarro, 2008. "Teacher Quality, Teacher Licensure Tests, and Student Achievement," Working Papers, RAND Corporation Publications Department 555, RAND Corporation Publications Department.

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