The direct and indirect effects of education policy on school and post school outcomes
Successive British governments since the early 1980s have introduced a host of educational policy reforms in an attempt to raise pupil performance at school. One of the most important educational policies in the secondary education sector was the specialist schools policy, which was introduced in 1994. Using data from the YCS for pupils who left school in either 2002 or 2004, a period of rapid expansion of the specialist schools programme, we seek to evaluate the effects of the policy. Unlike most previous work in this area we investigate the effects of the policy on test scores and truancy for pupils at school, but also assess whether the policy had direct and/or indirect effects on post-school outcomes, such as labour market status, wages and A-Level scores. We show that specialist schools did raise test scores during compusory schooling, and that the policy had a positive and statistically significant effect in raising the probability of employment. The evidence on A-level scores suggests a negative effect and, due to data limitations, no effect on wages is apparent. Although we stop short of claiming that our findings are causal, they do imply that policy makers need to take a more comprehensive view of the effects of education policies when trying to address whether they deliver value for money to the taxpayer.
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