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The Effect of High Stakes High School Achievement Awards: Evidence from a School-Centered Randomized Trial

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Author Info

  • Angrist, Joshua

    ()
    (MIT)

  • Lavy, Victor

    ()
    (Hebrew University, Jerusalem)

Abstract

In many countries, college-bound high school seniors must pass a test or series of tests. In Israel, this requirement is known as the “Bagrut”, or matriculation certificate, obtained by passing a series of subject tests. In spite of the Bagrut’s value, Israeli society is marked by vast differences in Bagrut rates by region and socioeconomic status. We attempted to increase the likelihood of Bagrut certification among low-achieving students by offering substantial cash incentives to high school seniors in an experimental demonstration program. As a theoretical matter, such incentives may be helpful if low-achieving students reduce investment in schooling because of high discount rates, part-time work, or face peer pressure not to study. The experiment studied here used a school-based randomization design offering awards to all students in treated schools who passed their exams. Randomization was imperfect because of the clustered design. We discuss alternative strategies for dealing with clustering in research of this type. On balance, the estimates point to a substantial and statistically significant treatment effect for students close to the margin for certification. We also look at a number of mediating outcomes in an effort to determine how students responded to incentives. These results show students took more tests and were more likely to accumulate the number of credit units required for Bagrut success.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1146.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: May 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: American Economic Review, 2009, 99 (4), 1384-1414
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1146

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Keywords: performance incentives; school reform; clustering;

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References

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  1. Michael Kremer & Edward Miguel & Rebecca Thornton, 2009. "Incentives to Learn," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(3), pages 437-456, August.
  2. Keane, Michael P & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 2000. "Eliminating Race Differences in School Attainment and Labor Market Success," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(4), pages 614-52, October.
  3. Joshua Angrist & Eric Bettinger & Erik Bloom & Elizabeth King & Michael Kremer, 2002. "Vouchers for private schooling in colombia: Evidence from a randomized natural experiment," Natural Field Experiments 00203, The Field Experiments Website.
  4. T. Paul Schultz, 2001. "School Subsidies for the Poor: Evaluating the Mexican Progresa Poverty Program," Working Papers 834, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  5. Zvi Eckstein & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1999. "Why Youths Drop Out of High School: The Impact of Preferences, Opportunities, and Abilities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(6), pages 1295-1340, November.
  6. Angrist, J.D. & Imbens, G.W., 1991. "Sources of Identifying Information in Evaluation Models," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1568, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  7. Moulton, Brent R., 1986. "Random group effects and the precision of regression estimates," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 385-397, August.
  8. James G. MacKinnon & Halbert White, 1983. "Some Heteroskedasticity Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimators with Improved Finite Sample Properties," Working Papers 537, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  9. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 1999. "Using Maimonides' Rule To Estimate The Effect Of Class Size On Scholastic Achievement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(2), pages 533-575, May.
  10. Myles Maxfield & Allen Schirm & Nuria Rodriguez-Planas, 2003. "The Quantum Opportunity Program Demonstration: Implementation and Short-Term Impacts," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 3525, Mathematica Policy Research.
  11. Jonathan Gruber, 2000. "Risky Behavior Among Youths: An Economic Analysis," NBER Working Papers 7781, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Angrist, Joshua & Lavy, Victor, 2002. "The Effect of High School Matriculation Awards: Evidence from Randomized Trials," CEPR Discussion Papers 3827, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Joshua D. Angrist & Jinyong Hahn, 1999. "When to Control for Covariates? Panel-Asymptotic Results for Estimates of Treatment Effects," NBER Technical Working Papers 0241, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Chesher, Andrew & Jewitt, Ian, 1987. "The Bias of a Heteroskedasticity Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(5), pages 1217-22, September.
  15. Thomas J. Kane & Douglas O. Staiger, 2002. "The Promise and Pitfalls of Using Imprecise School Accountability Measures," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(4), pages 91-114, Fall.
  16. Victor Lavy, 2002. "Evaluating the Effect of Teachers' Group Performance Incentives on Pupil Achievement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(6), pages 1286-1317, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Felgueroso, Florentino & Gutiérrez-Domenech, María & Jiménez Martín, Sergi, 2013. "¿Por qué el abandono escolar se ha mantenido tan elevado en España en las últimas dos décadas? El papel de la Ley de Educación (LOGSE)," Economic Reports 02-2013, FEDEA.
  2. Eric D. Gould & Victor Lavy & M. Daniele Paserman, 2009. "Does Immigration Affect the Long-Term Educational Outcomes of Natives? Quasi-Experimental Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(540), pages 1243-1269, October.
  3. Maarten Cornet & Free Huizinga & Bert Minne & Dinand Webbink, 2006. "Successful knowledge policies," CPB Memorandum 158, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
  4. Victor Lavy, 2009. "Performance Pay and Teachers' Effort, Productivity, and Grading Ethics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 1979-2011, December.
  5. Carmit Segal, 2006. "Motivation, test scores and economic success," Economics Working Papers 1124, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 2008.
  6. Victor Lavy & Analia Schlosser, 2011. "Mechanisms and Impacts of Gender Peer Effects at School," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 1-33, April.
  7. Sharon Bernhardt, 2006. "Participation in a School Incentive Programme in Karnataka," Working Papers id:319, eSocialSciences.

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