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The Effect of School Choice on Student Outcomes: Evidence from Randomized Lotteries

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  • Julie Berry Cullen
  • Brian A. Jacob
  • Steven Levitt

Abstract

School choice has become an increasingly prominent strategy for urban school districts seeking to enhance academic achievement. Evaluating the impact of such programs is complicated by the fact that a highly select sample of students takes advantage of these programs. To overcome this difficulty, we exploit randomized lotteries that determine high school admission in the Chicago Public Schools. Surprisingly, we find little evidence that attending sought after programs provides any benefit on a wide variety of traditional academic measures, including standardized test scores, attendance rates, course-taking, and credit accumulation. This is true despite the fact that those students who win the lotteries attend better high schools along a number of dimensions, including higher peer achievement levels, higher peer graduation rates, and lower levels of poverty. We do, however, uncover evidence that attendance at such schools may improve a subset of non-traditional outcome measures, such as self-reported disciplinary incidences and arrest rates.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10113.

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Date of creation: Nov 2003
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Publication status: published as Cullen, Julie Berry, Brian A. Jacob, and Steven D. Levitt. “The effect of school choice on participants: evidence from randomized lotteries." Econometrica 74, 5 (2006): 1191-1230.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10113

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  1. Julie Berry Cullen & Brian Jacob & Steven Levitt, 2000. "The Impact of School Choice on Student Outcomes: An Analysis of the Chicago Public Schools," NBER Working Papers 7888, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain & Jacob M. Markman & Steven G. Rivkin, 2001. "Does Peer Ability Affect Student Achievement?," NBER Working Papers 8502, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Neal, Derek, 1997. "The Effects of Catholic Secondary Schooling on Educational Achievement," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 98-123, January.
  4. Lawrence F. Katz & Jeffrey R. Kling & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2001. "Moving To Opportunity In Boston: Early Results Of A Randomized Mobility Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 116(2), pages 607-654, May.
  5. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2000. "Does Competition among Public Schools Benefit Students and Taxpayers?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1209-1238, December.
  6. David Figlio & Jens Ludwig, 2012. "Sex, Drugs, and Catholic Schools: Private Schooling and Non-Market Adolescent Behaviors," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 13(4), pages 385-415, November.
  7. H. Naci Mocan & Erdal Tekin, 2002. "Catholic Schools and Bad Behavior: A Propensity Score Matching Analysis," NBER Working Papers 9172, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Alan B. Krueger & Pei Zhu, 2003. "Another Look at the New York City School Voucher Experiment," NBER Working Papers 9418, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Lefgren, Lars, 2004. "Educational peer effects and the Chicago public schools," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 169-191, September.
  10. Joshua Angrist & Eric Bettinger & Erik Bloom & Elizabeth King & Michael Kremer, 2002. "Vouchers for Private Schooling in Colombia: Evidence from a Randomized Natural Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1535-1558, December.
  11. Hanushek, E.A.omson, W., 1996. "Assessing the Effects of School Resources on Student Performance : An Update," RCER Working Papers 424, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  12. 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.
  13. Mocan, Naci & Scafidi, Benjamin & Tekin, Erdal, 2002. "Catholic Schools and Bad Behavior," IZA Discussion Papers 599, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. 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.
  15. 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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