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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. Kremer, Michael R. & Miguel, Edward & Thornton, Rebecca, 2009. "Incentives to Learn," Scholarly Articles 3716457, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Moulton, Brent R., 1986. "Random group effects and the precision of regression estimates," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 385-397, August.
  5. Angrist, J.D. & Imbens, G.W., 1991. "Sources of Identifying Information in Evaluation Models," Papers 9142, Tilburg - Center for Economic Research.
  6. 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.
  7. repec:mpr:mprres:3525 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Jonathan Gruber, 2000. "Risky Behavior Among Youths: An Economic Analysis," NBER Working Papers 7781, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Angrist, Joshua & Lavy, Victor, 2002. "The Effect of High School Matriculation Awards: Evidence from Randomized Trials," CEPR Discussion Papers 3827, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Chesher, Andrew & Jewitt, Ian, 1987. "The Bias of a Heteroskedasticity Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(5), pages 1217-22, September.
  15. T. Paul Schultz, 2001. "School Subsidies for the Poor: Evaluating the Mexican Progresa Poverty Program," Working Papers 834, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  16. 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.
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