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Do small schools improve performance in large, urban districts? Causal evidence from New York City

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  • Schwartz, Amy Ellen
  • Stiefel, Leanna
  • Wiswall, Matthew

Abstract

We evaluate the effectiveness of small high school reform in the country’s largest school district, New York City. Using a rich administrative dataset for multiple cohorts of students and distance between student residence and school to instrument for endogenous school selection, we find substantial heterogeneity in school effects: newly created small schools have positive effects on graduation and some other education outcomes while older small schools do not. Importantly, we show that ignoring this source of treatment effect heterogeneity by assuming a common small school effect yields a misleading zero effect of small school attendance.

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  • Schwartz, Amy Ellen & Stiefel, Leanna & Wiswall, Matthew, 2013. "Do small schools improve performance in large, urban districts? Causal evidence from New York City," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 27-40.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:juecon:v:77:y:2013:i:c:p:27-40
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jue.2013.03.008
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Stiefel, Leanna & Schwartz, Amy Ellen & Iatarola, Patrice & Chellman, Colin C., 2009. "Mission matters: The cost of small high schools revisited," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(5), pages 585-599, October.
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    5. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Parag A. Pathak & Alvin E. Roth, 2009. "Strategy-Proofness versus Efficiency in Matching with Indifferences: Redesigning the NYC High School Match," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 1954-1978, December.
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    9. Kevin Booker & Tim R. Sass & Brian Gill & Ron Zimmer, 2011. "The Effects of Charter High Schools on Educational Attainment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(2), pages 377-415.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Holmlund, Helena & Böhlmark, Anders, 2019. "Does grade configuration matter? Effects of school reorganisation on pupils’ educational experience," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 14-26.
    2. Barrow, Lisa & Schanzenbach, Diane Whitmore & Claessens, Amy, 2015. "The impact of Chicago’s small high school initiative," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 100-113.
    3. Beuchert, Louise & Humlum, Maria Knoth & Nielsen, Helena Skyt & Smith, Nina, 2018. "The short-term effects of school consolidation on student achievement: Evidence of disruption?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 31-47.
    4. Holmlund, Helena & Böhlmark, Anders, 2017. "Does grade configuration matter for school performance? Short- and long-run effects of school reorganisation," Working Paper Series 2017:6, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    5. Sarah A. Cordes, 2018. "In Pursuit of the Common Good: The Spillover Effects of Charter Schools on Public School Students in New York City," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 13(4), pages 484-512, Fall.
    6. Herbst, Mikołaj & Strawiński, Paweł, 2016. "Early effects of an early start: Evidence from lowering the school starting age in Poland," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 256-271.
    7. Rupert Green, 2015. "On Meeting NCLB School Improvement Mandate," SAGE Open, , vol. 5(4), pages 21582440156, November.
    8. Koussihouèdé, Oswald, 2020. "Primary school size and learning achievement in Senegal: Testing the quantity–quality trade-off," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 77(C).
    9. Schwartz, Amy Ellen & Stiefel, Leanna & Wiswall, Matthew, 2016. "Are all schools created equal? Learning environments in small and large public high schools in New York City," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 272-290.
    10. Atila Abdulkadiroğlu & Weiwei Hu & Parag A. Pathak, 2013. "Small High Schools and Student Achievement: Lottery-Based Evidence from New York City," NBER Working Papers 19576, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Amy Ellen Schwartz & Jacob Leos‐Urbel & Joel McMurry & Matthew Wiswall, 2021. "Making summer matter: The impact of youth employment on academic performance," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 12(2), pages 477-504, May.
    12. Humlum, Maria Knoth & Smith, Nina, 2015. "Long-term effects of school size on students’ outcomes," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 28-43.
    13. Horn, Keren Mertens & Ellen, Ingrid Gould & Schwartz, Amy Ellen, 2014. "Do Housing Choice Voucher holders live near good schools?," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(C), pages 28-40.
    14. C. Kirabo Jackson & Rucker C. Johnson & Claudia Persico, 2016. "The Effects of School Spending on Educational and Economic Outcomes: Evidence from School Finance Reforms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 131(1), pages 157-218.
    15. Hong, Kai & Zimmer, Ron & Engberg, John, 2018. "How does grade configuration impact student achievement in elementary and middle school grades?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 1-19.
    16. Welsch, David M. & Zimmer, David M., 2016. "The dynamic relationship between school size and academic performance: An investigation of elementary schools in Wisconsin," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 158-169.
    17. Horn, Keren Mertens & Ellen, Ingrid Gould & Schwartz, Amy Ellen, 2014. "Reprint of “Do Housing Choice Voucher Holders Live Near Good Schools?”," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 109-121.
    18. Hashim, Ayesha K. & Strunk, Katharine O. & Marsh, Julie A., 2018. "The new school advantage? Examining the effects of strategic new school openings on student achievement," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 254-266.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Education reform; Small schools; Heterogeneous treatment; Instrumental variables;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods

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