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Educational Effects of Widening Access to the Academic Track: A Natural Experiment

  • Eric Maurin
  • Sandra McNally

It is difficult to know whether widening access to schools which provide a more academically oriented general education makes a difference to average educational achievement. We make use of reforms affecting admission to the 'high ability' track in Northern Ireland, but not England. The comparison of educational outcomes between Northern Ireland and England before and after the reform identifies the net effect of expanding the academic track to accommodate more students. This is composed of the direct effect of the more academic track on individual performance and the indirect effect arising on account of the change in peer group composition. Our paper is relevant to debate on the consequences of ability tracking and of expanding access to the academic track.

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File URL: http://cee.lse.ac.uk/ceedps/ceedp85.pdf
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Paper provided by Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE in its series CEE Discussion Papers with number 0085.

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Date of creation: Aug 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cep:ceedps:0085
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://cee.lse.ac.uk/publications.htm

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  1. Eric A. Hanushek & Ludger Woessmann, 2005. "Does Educational Tracking Affect Performance and Inequality? Differences-in-Differences Evidence across Countries," NBER Working Papers 11124, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Costas Meghir & Mårten Palme, 2005. "Educational Reform, Ability, and Family Background," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 414-424, March.
  3. Galindo-Rueda, Fernando & Vignoles, Anna, 2004. "The Heterogeneous Effect of Selection in Secondary Schools: Understanding the Changing Role of Ability," IZA Discussion Papers 1245, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Philip Oreopoulos, 2006. "Estimating Average and Local Average Treatment Effects of Education when Compulsory Schooling Laws Really Matter," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 152-175, March.
  5. Lorraine Dearden & Javier Ferri & Costas Meghir, 2000. "The effect of school quality on educational attainment and wages," IFS Working Papers W00/22, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  6. Pekkarinen, Tuomas, 2005. "Gender Differences in Educational Attainment: Evidence on the Role of the Tracking Age from a Finnish Quasi-Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 1897, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Harmon, Colm & Walker, Ian, 2000. "The Returns to the Quantity and Quality of Education: Evidence for Men in England and Wales," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 67(265), pages 19-35, February.
  8. Adele Atkinson & Paul Gregg & Brendon McConnell, 2006. "The Result of 11 Plus Selection: An Investigation into Opportunities and Outcomes for Pupils in Selective LEAs," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 06/150, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
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