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The Effect of High Stakes High School Achievement Awards: Evidence from a School-Centered Randomized Trial

  • Angrist, Joshua

    ()

    (MIT)

  • Lavy, Victor

    ()

    (Hebrew University, Jerusalem)

In many countries, college-bound high school seniors must pass a test or series of tests. In Israel, this requirement is known as the “Bagrut”, or matriculation certificate, obtained by passing a series of subject tests. In spite of the Bagrut’s value, Israeli society is marked by vast differences in Bagrut rates by region and socioeconomic status. We attempted to increase the likelihood of Bagrut certification among low-achieving students by offering substantial cash incentives to high school seniors in an experimental demonstration program. As a theoretical matter, such incentives may be helpful if low-achieving students reduce investment in schooling because of high discount rates, part-time work, or face peer pressure not to study. The experiment studied here used a school-based randomization design offering awards to all students in treated schools who passed their exams. Randomization was imperfect because of the clustered design. We discuss alternative strategies for dealing with clustering in research of this type. On balance, the estimates point to a substantial and statistically significant treatment effect for students close to the margin for certification. We also look at a number of mediating outcomes in an effort to determine how students responded to incentives. These results show students took more tests and were more likely to accumulate the number of credit units required for Bagrut success.

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File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp1146.pdf
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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1146.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: May 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: American Economic Review, 2009, 99 (4), 1384-1414
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1146
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  1. Michael P. Keane & Kenneth Wolpin, . "Eliminating Race Differences in School Attainment and Labor Market Success," CARESS Working Papres 97-5, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  2. Zvi Eckstein & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1999. "Why Youths Drop Out of High School: The Impact of Preferences, Opportunities, and Abilities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(6), pages 1295-1340, November.
  3. James G. MacKinnon & Halbert White, 1983. "Some Heteroskedasticity Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimators with Improved Finite Sample Properties," Working Papers 537, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  4. Joshua D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens, 1991. "Sources of Identifying Information in Evaluation Models," NBER Technical Working Papers 0117, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Jonathan Gruber, 2001. "Risky Behavior among Youths: An Economic Analysis," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number grub01-1, June.
  6. Moulton, Brent R., 1986. "Random group effects and the precision of regression estimates," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 385-397, August.
  7. T. Paul Schultz, 2001. "School Subsidies for the Poor: Evaluating the Mexican Progresa Poverty Program," Working Papers 834, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  8. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 2002. "The Effect of High School Matriculation Awards: Evidence from Randomized Trials," NBER Working Papers 9389, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Chesher, Andrew & Jewitt, Ian, 1987. "The Bias of a Heteroskedasticity Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(5), pages 1217-22, September.
  10. Joshua Angrist & Eric Bettinger & Erik Bloom & Elizabeth King & Michael Kremer, 2002. "Vouchers for Private Schooling in Colombia: Evidence from a Randomized Natural Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1535-1558, December.
  11. Kremer, Michael Robert & Miguel, Edward A. & Thorton, Rebecca L, 2004. "Incentives to Learn," Center for International and Development Economics Research, Working Paper Series qt9kc4p47q, Center for International and Development Economics Research, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  12. Joshua D. Angrist & Jinyong Hahn, 1999. "When to Control for Covariates? Panel-Asymptotic Results for Estimates of Treatment Effects," NBER Technical Working Papers 0241, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. repec:mpr:mprres:3525 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. 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.
  15. Edward Miguel & Michael Kremer & Rebecca Thornton, 2004. "Incentives to learn," Natural Field Experiments 00289, The Field Experiments Website.
  16. Thomas J. Kane & Douglas O. Staiger, 2002. "The Promise and Pitfalls of Using Imprecise School Accountability Measures," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(4), pages 91-114, Fall.
  17. Victor Lavy, 2002. "Evaluating the Effect of Teachers' Group Performance Incentives on Pupil Achievement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(6), pages 1286-1317, December.
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