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Vouchers, public school response, and the role of incentives: evidence from Florida

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  • Rajashri Chakrabarti

Abstract

In this paper, I analyze the behavior of public schools facing vouchers. The literature on the effects of voucher programs on public schools typically focuses on student and mean school scores. This paper tries to go inside the black box to investigate some of the ways in which schools facing the threat of vouchers in Florida behaved. Under a 1999 program, Florida schools earning an "F" grade for the first time were exposed to the threat of vouchers, but did not face vouchers unless and until they got a second "F" within the next three years. Exploiting the institutional details of this program, I analyze the incentives built into the system and investigate the behavior of the public schools facing these incentives. I find strong evidence that they did respond to incentives. Using highly disaggregated school-level data, a difference-in-differences estimation strategy as well as a regression discontinuity analysis, I find that the threatened schools tended to focus more on students below the minimum criteria cutoffs rather than equally on all; interestingly, however, this improvement did not come at the expense of higher performing students. Second, consistent with incentives, the schools focused on writing rather than reading and math. These results are robust to controlling for differential pre-program trends, changes in demographic compositions, mean reversion, and sorting and have important policy implications.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its series Staff Reports with number 306.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:306

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Keywords: Educational vouchers ; Public schools;

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References

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  1. Julie Berry Cullen, 1999. "The Impact of Fiscal Incentives on Student Disability Rates," NBER Working Papers 7173, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2002. "School Choice and School Productivity (or Could School Choice be a Tide that Lifts All Boats?)," NBER Working Papers 8873, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Rajashri Chakrabarti, 2007. "Can increasing private school participation and monetary loss in a voucher program affect public school performance? Evidence from Milwaukee," Staff Reports 300, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  4. Figlio, David N., 2006. "Testing, crime and punishment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(4-5), pages 837-851, May.
  5. David N. Figlio & Cecilia Rouse, 2005. "Do Accountability and Voucher Threats Improve Low-Performing Schools?," NBER Working Papers 11597, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Caroline Minter Hoxby, 2003. "School Choice and School Productivity. Could School Choice Be a Tide that Lifts All Boats?," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of School Choice, pages 287-342 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Julie Berry Cullen & Randall Reback, 2006. "Tinkering Toward Accolades: School Gaming Under a Performance Accountability System," NBER Working Papers 12286, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Brian A. Jacob & Steven D. Levitt, 2003. "Rotten Apples: An Investigation Of The Prevalence And Predictors Of Teacher Cheating," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 843-877, August.
  9. Kenneth Y. Chay & Patrick J. McEwan & Miguel Urquiola, 2005. "The Central Role of Noise in Evaluating Interventions That Use Test Scores to Rank Schools," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1237-1258, September.
  10. David N. Figlio & Maurice E. Lucas, 2004. "What's in a Grade? School Report Cards and the Housing Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 591-604, June.
  11. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1991. "Multitask Principal-Agent Analyses: Incentive Contracts, Asset Ownership, and Job Design," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 24-52, Special I.
  12. Martin R. West & Paul E. Peterson, 2006. "The Efficacy of Choice Threats Within School Accountability Systems: Results from Legislatively Induced Experiments," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(510), pages C46-C62, 03.
  13. Chakrabarti Rajashri, 2013. "Impact of Voucher Design on Public School Performance: Evidence from Florida and Milwaukee Voucher Programs," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 13(1), pages 349-394, July.
  14. David N. Figlio & Lawrence S. Getzler, 2002. "Accountability , Ability and Disability: Gaming the System," NBER Working Papers 9307, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Nechyba, Thomas J., 2002. "Introducing School Choice into Multi-District Public School Systems," Working Papers 02-13, Duke University, Department of Economics.
  16. Figlio, David N. & Winicki, Joshua, 2005. "Food for thought: the effects of school accountability plans on school nutrition," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 381-394, February.
  17. Jacob, Brian A., 2005. "Accountability, incentives and behavior: the impact of high-stakes testing in the Chicago Public Schools," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 761-796, June.
  18. West, Martin R. & Peterson, Paul E., 2005. "The Efficacy of Choice Threats within School Accountability Systems: Results from Legislatively Induced Experiments," Working Paper Series rwp05-033, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  19. McMillan, Robert, 2004. "Competition, incentives, and public school productivity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1871-1892, August.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Rajashri Chakrabarti, 2011. "Vouchers, responses, and the test-taking population: regression discontinuity evidence from Florida," Staff Reports 486, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  2. Randall Reback & Jonah Rockoff & Heather L. Schwartz, 2011. "Under Pressure: Job Security, Resource Allocation, and Productivity in Schools Under NCLB," NBER Working Papers 16745, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Steven G. Craig & Scott Imberman & Adam Perdue, 2009. "Does It Pay To Get An A? School Resource Allocations In Response To Accountability Ratings," Working Papers 2009-04, Department of Economics, University of Houston.
  4. Rebecca Allen & Simon Burgess, . "How should we treat under-performing schools? A regression discontinuity analysis of school inspections in England Abstract: School inspections are an important part of the accountability framework fo," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 12/287, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  5. Rebecca Allen & Simon Burgess, 2012. "How should we treat under-performing schools? A regression discontinuity analysis of school inspections in England," DoQSS Working Papers 12-02, Department of Quantitative Social Science - Institute of Education, University of London.
  6. Cecilia Elena Rouse & Jane Hannaway & Dan Goldhaber & David Figlio, 2013. "Feeling the Florida Heat? How Low-Performing Schools Respond to Voucher and Accountability Pressure," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 251-81, May.
  7. Jonah E. Rockoff & Lesley J. Turner, 2008. "Short Run Impacts of Accountability on School Quality," NBER Working Papers 14564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Nathan L. Gray, 2012. "School Choice and Achievement: The Ohio Charter School Experience," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 32(3), pages 558-579, Fall.
  9. Rajashri Chakrabarti & Noah Schwartz, 2013. "Unintended consequences of school accountability policies: evidence from Florida and implications for New York," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue May, pages 19-44.
  10. Rajashri Chakrabarti, 2010. "Program design, incentives, and response: evidence from educational interventions," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Oct, pages 1-22.
  11. Chiang, Hanley, 2009. "How accountability pressure on failing schools affects student achievement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(9-10), pages 1045-1057, October.
  12. Filer, Randall K. & M√ľnich, Daniel, 2013. "Responses of private and public schools to voucher funding," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 269-285.
  13. Marianne P. Bitler & Thurston Domina & Emily K. Penner & Hilary W. Hoynes, 2013. "Distributional Effects of a School Voucher Program: Evidence from New York City," NBER Working Papers 19271, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Chakrabarti, Rajashri, 2014. "Incentives and responses under No Child Left Behind: Credible threats and the role of competition," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 124-146.

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