The French zones d'éducation prioritaire: Much ado about nothing?
We provide an assessment of the French ZEP (Zones d'Education Prioritaire), a program started in 1982 that channels additional resources to schools in disadvantaged areas and encourages the development of new teaching projects. Focusing on middle-schools, we first evaluate the impact of the ZEP status on resources, their utilization (teacher bonuses versus teaching hours) and key establishments characteristics such as class sizes, school enrolments, teachers' qualifications and experience, and student composition and mobility. We then estimate the impact of the ZEP program on four measures of individual student achievement: obtaining at least one diploma by the end of schooling, reaching 8th grade, reaching 10th grade and success at the Baccalauréat (the national examination at the end of high school). We take into account the endogeneity of the ZEP status by using both difference in differences and instrumental variables based on political variables. The results are the same in all cases: there is no impact on student success of the ZEP program.
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