IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/cdh/commen/418.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Expanding School Choice through Open Enrolment: Lessons from British Columbia

Author

Listed:
  • Jane Friesen

    (Simon Fraser University)

  • Benjamin Cerf Harris

    (Simon Fraser University)

  • Simon Woodcock

    (Simon Fraser University)

Abstract

Is expanding the scope for parents to choose among competing schools an effective policy lever for improving the quality of education? What lessons can we take from British Columbia’s experience with greater school choice? In 2002, British Columbia implemented a new policy that makes it easier for parents to opt out of their neighbourhood school. Along with the province’s rich administrative and test score data, the introduction of this “open enrolment” policy provides a rare opportunity to estimate the extent to which increased public school choice affects student achievement, concentrates minority students in enclave schools and promotes cream-skimming. Our results support several conclusions about British Columbia’s experience with open enrolment. First, the fact that many more parents succeeded in enrolling their children in out-of-catchment schools demonstrates that the policy had a meaningful impact on the public school choice opportunities available to many families. Second, the evidence suggests that open enrolment contributed to the development of important academic skills, but the magnitude of this impact depended on the geographic concentration of public schools. In the Lower Mainland, 10 to 15 percent of neighbourhoods are dense enough to have generated fairly substantial improvements in academic achievement. The gains in these neighbourhoods were equivalent to reducing class size by between two and three students; compared to class-size reductions, open enrolment is likely to be a fairly cost effective strategy for improving student achievement as measured by test scores. In the remaining neighbourhoods, where school density is lower, the impact of open enrolment on test scores was quite small. Finally, open enrolment did little to either segregate or integrate Lower Mainland students according to their cultural and ethnic backgrounds. There is also little evidence that popular schools engaged in creamskimming high-achieving students. These generally positive results might encourage policymakers in other jurisdictions to give fresh thought to introducing greater school choice into their public education systems.

Suggested Citation

  • Jane Friesen & Benjamin Cerf Harris & Simon Woodcock, 2015. "Expanding School Choice through Open Enrolment: Lessons from British Columbia," C.D. Howe Institute Commentary, C.D. Howe Institute, issue 418, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdh:commen:418
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.cdhowe.org/public-policy-research/expanding-school-choice-through-open-enrolment-lessons-british-columbia
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Clark Damon, 2010. "Selective Schools and Academic Achievement," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-40, February.
    2. repec:mpr:mprres:6364 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Hanley Chiang, "undated". "How Accountability Pressure on Failing Schools Affects Student Achievement," Mathematica Policy Research Reports c58a3b537e324447b94a2bd41, Mathematica Policy Research.
    4. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Pierre Lefebvre & Philip Merrigan, 2020. "Les inégalités provinciales aux tests internationaux-nationaux de littéracie : Québec, Ontario et autres provinces canadiennes 1993-2018 [Provincial achievement gaps from literacy surveys conducted," Working Papers 20-02, Research Group on Human Capital, University of Quebec in Montreal's School of Management, revised Oct 2020.
    2. Pierre Lefebvre & Philip Merrigan, 2020. "Les inégalités provinciales aux tests internationaux-nationaux de littéracie : Québec, Ontario et autres provinces canadiennes 1993-2018 (Version révisée et augmentée octobre 2020)," CIRANO Working Papers 2020s-29, CIRANO.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Friesen, Jane & Harris, Benjamin Cerf & Woodcock, Simon, 2013. "Open Enrolment and Student Achievement," CLSSRN working papers clsrn_admin-2013-46, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 22 Mar 2014.
    2. Richardson, J.T., 2015. "Accountability incentives and academic achievement: Distributional impacts of accountability when standards are set low," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 1-16.
    3. David S. Lee & Thomas Lemieux, 2010. "Regression Discontinuity Designs in Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(2), pages 281-355, June.
    4. Jonah Rockoff & Lesley J. Turner, 2010. "Short-Run Impacts of Accountability on School Quality," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 119-147, November.
    5. David Figlio & Cassandra M. D. Hart, 2014. "Competitive Effects of Means-Tested School Vouchers," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 133-156, January.
    6. Iftikhar Hussain, 2015. "Subjective Performance Evaluation in the Public Sector: Evidence from School Inspections," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(1), pages 189-221.
    7. Craig, Steven G. & Imberman, Scott A. & Perdue, Adam, 2015. "Do administrators respond to their accountability ratings? The response of school budgets to accountability grades," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 55-68.
    8. Craig, Steven G. & Imberman, Scott A. & Perdue, Adam, 2013. "Does it pay to get an A? School resource allocations in response to accountability ratings," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 30-42.
    9. Ana Balcao Reis & Carmo Seabra & Luis C. Nunes, 2012. "Ranking schools: a step toward increased accountability or a mere discriminatory practice?," FEUNL Working Paper Series wp567, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Economia.
    10. Nunes, Luis C. & Reis, Ana Balcão & Seabra, Carmo, 2015. "The publication of school rankings: A step toward increased accountability?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 15-23.
    11. Woo, Seokjin & Lee, Soohyung & Kim, Kyunghee, 2015. "Carrot and stick?: Impact of a low-stakes school accountability program on student achievement," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 137(C), pages 195-199.
    12. 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.
    13. Leonard Daniel & Long Ngo Van, 2012. "IS EMULATION GOOD FOR YOU? THE UPsAND DOWNsOF RIVALRY," Global Journal of Economics (GJE), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 1(01), pages 1-21.
    14. Pierre Koning & Karen Wiel, 2012. "School Responsiveness to Quality Rankings: An Empirical Analysis of Secondary Education in the Netherlands," De Economist, Springer, vol. 160(4), pages 339-355, December.
    15. Robert A. HartBy & Mirko Moro & J. Elizabeth Roberts, 2017. "Who gained from the introduction of free universal secondary education in England and Wales?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(3), pages 707-733.
    16. Facundo Albornoz & Samuel Berlinski & Antonio Cabrales, 2016. "Motivation, Resources and the Organization of the School System," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 94958, Inter-American Development Bank.
    17. Dennis Epple & Richard E. Romano & Miguel Urquiola, 2017. "School Vouchers: A Survey of the Economics Literature," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(2), pages 441-492, June.
    18. Feng, Li & Figlio, David & Sass, Tim, 2018. "School accountability and teacher mobility," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 1-17.
    19. Simon Burgess & Matt Dickson & Lindsey Macmillan, 2020. "Do selective schooling systems increase inequality?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(1), pages 1-24.
    20. Dee, Thomas & Lan, Xiaohuan, 2015. "The achievement and course-taking effects of magnet schools: Regression-discontinuity evidence from urban China," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 128-142.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social Policy; Education;

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cdh:commen:418. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Kristine Gray). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/cdhowca.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.