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Resources and Standards in Urban Schools

  • Stephen Machin
  • Sandra McNally
  • Costas Meghir

Despite being central to government education policy in many countries, there remains considerable debate about whether resources matter for pupil outcomes. In this paper we look at this question by considering an English education policy initiative - Excellence in Cities - which has been a flagship policy aimed at raising standards in inner-city secondary schools. We report results showing a positive impact of the extra resources on school attendance and performance in Mathematics (though not for English) but, interestingly, there is a marked heterogeneity in the effectiveness of the policy. Its greatest impact has been in more disadvantaged schools and on the performance of middle and high ability students within these schools. A simple cost-benefit calculation suggests the policy to be cost-effective. We conclude that additional resources can matter for children in the poorest secondary schools, particularly when building on a solid educational or ability background. However, small changes in resources have little or no effect on the 'hard to reach' children who have not achieved a sufficiently strong prior level.

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Paper provided by Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE in its series CEE Discussion Papers with number 0076.

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Date of creation: Feb 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cep:ceedps:0076
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  1. Alan B. Krueger, 2003. "Economic Considerations and Class Size," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages F34-F63, February.
  2. Alan Krueger, 1997. "Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions," Working Papers 758, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  3. James Heckman & Pedro Carneiro, 2003. "Human Capital Policy," NBER Working Papers 9495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 1999. "Using Maimonides' Rule To Estimate The Effect Of Class Size On Scholastic Achievement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(2), pages 533-575, May.
  5. 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.
  6. Blundell, Richard William & Costa Dias, Monica & Meghir, Costas & Van Reenen, John, 2003. "Evaluating the Employment Impact of a Mandatory Job Search Programme," CEPR Discussion Papers 3786, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Bénabou, Roland & Kramarz, Francis & Prost, Corinne, 2009. "The French zones d'éducation prioritaire: Much ado about nothing?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 345-356, June.
  8. Alan Krueger & Diane Whitmore, 1999. "The Effect of Attending a Small Class in the Early Grades on College-Test Taking and Middle School Test Results: Evidence from Project STAR," Working Papers 806, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  9. Victor Lavy & Analia Schlosser, 2004. "Targeted Remedial Education for Under-Performing Teenagers: Costs and Benefits," NBER Working Papers 10575, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Janet Currie, 2001. "Early Childhood Education Programs," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(2), pages 213-238, Spring.
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