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What’s in a Name? Expectations, Heuristics and Choice During a Period of Radical School Reform

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  • Marco Bertoni
  • Stephen Gibbons
  • Olmo Silva

Abstract

Education policy worldwide has sought to incentivize school improvement and facilitate pupil-school matching by introducing reforms that promote autonomy and choice. Understanding the way in which families form preferences during these periods of reform is crucial for evaluating the impact of such policies. We study the effects on choice of a recent shock to the English school system - the academy programme - which gave existing state schools greater autonomy, but provided limited information on possible expected benefits. We use administrative data on school applications for three cohorts of students to estimate whether academy conversion changes schools' popularity. We find that families - particularly non-poor, White British ones - rank converted schools higher on average. Expected changes in composition, effectiveness and other school policies cannot explain this updating of preferences. Instead, the patterns suggest that families combine the signal of conversion with prior information on quality, popularity and proximity as a heuristic for assessing a school's expected future performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Marco Bertoni & Stephen Gibbons & Olmo Silva, 2017. "What’s in a Name? Expectations, Heuristics and Choice During a Period of Radical School Reform," CEP Discussion Papers dp1477, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1477
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    school reform; choice and autonomy; parental preferences; heuristic-based decision making;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare
    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

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