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Funding, School Specialization, and Test Scores: An Evaluation of the Specialist Schools Policy Using Matching Models

  • Steve Bradley
  • Giuseppe Migali
  • Jim Taylor

We evaluate the causal association between the specialist schools policy, a UK reform that has increased funding and encouraged secondary school specialization in particular subjects, and pupils' test score outcomes. Using the National Pupil Database, we estimate difference-in-difference matching models. We find a small, positive, and statistically significant causal effect on test scores at age 16. Pupils from poorer social backgrounds benefited more than pupils from richer backgrounds; pupils from ethnic minority backgrounds benefited less. We disentangle the funding effect from a specialization effect, which yields a relatively large proportionate improvement in test scores in particular subjects.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/669203
Download Restriction: Access to the online full text or PDF requires a subscription.

File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/669203
Download Restriction: Access to the online full text or PDF requires a subscription.

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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Human Capital.

Volume (Year): 7 (2013)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 76 - 106

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jhucap:doi:10.1086/669203
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JHC/

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  1. Aakvik, A., 1999. "Bounding a Marching Estimator: the Case of a Norwegian Training Program," Norway; Department of Economics, University of Bergen 0499, Department of Economics, University of Bergen.
  2. Petra E. Todd & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2003. "On The Specification and Estimation of The Production Function for Cognitive Achievement," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages F3-F33, February.
  3. Stephen Machin & Sandra McNally & Costas Meghir, 2004. "Improving Pupil Performance in English Secondary Schools: Excellence in Cities," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(2-3), pages 396-405, 04/05.
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