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

Author

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  • Angrist, Joshua

    () (MIT)

  • Lavy, Victor

    () (Hebrew University, Jerusalem)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Angrist, Joshua & Lavy, Victor, 2004. "The Effect of High Stakes High School Achievement Awards: Evidence from a School-Centered Randomized Trial," IZA Discussion Papers 1146, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1146
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Carmit Segal, 2006. "Motivation, test scores and economic success," Economics Working Papers 1124, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 2008.
    2. Victor Lavy, 2009. "Performance Pay and Teachers' Effort, Productivity, and Grading Ethics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 1979-2011, December.
    3. Abdoulaye Diagne & Mouhamadou Moustapha Lô & Ousmane Sokhna & Fatoumata L. Diallo, 2013. "Evaluation of the Impact of School Canteen Programs on Internal Efficiency of Schools, Cognitive Acquisitions and Learning Capacities of Students in Rural Primary Schools in Senegal," Working Papers PIERI 2013-14, PEP-PIERI.
    4. Eric D. Gould & Victor Lavy & M. Daniele Paserman, 2009. "Does Immigration Affect the Long-Term Educational Outcomes of Natives? Quasi-Experimental Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(540), pages 1243-1269, October.
    5. Ted Nabil ARANKI, "undated". "The Effect of Israeli Closure Policy on Wage Earnings in the West Bank and Gaza Strip," Middle East and North Africa 330400006, EcoMod.
    6. Maarten Cornet & Free Huizinga & Bert Minne & Dinand Webbink, 2006. "Successful knowledge policies," CPB Memorandum 158, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    7. Lavy, Victor, 2008. "Do gender stereotypes reduce girls' or boys' human capital outcomes? Evidence from a natural experiment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(10-11), pages 2083-2105, October.
    8. Victor Lavy & Analia Schlosser, 2011. "Mechanisms and Impacts of Gender Peer Effects at School," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 1-33, April.
    9. Felgueroso, Florentino & Gutiérrez-Domenech, María & Jiménez Martín, Sergi, 2013. "¿Por qué el abandono escolar se ha mantenido tan elevado en España en las últimas dos décadas? El papel de la Ley de Educación (LOGSE)," Economic Reports 02-2013, FEDEA.
    10. Sharon Bernhardt, 2006. "Participation in a School Incentive Programme in Karnataka," Working Papers id:319, eSocialSciences.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    performance incentives; school reform; clustering;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments

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