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When Educators Are the Learners: Private Contracting by Public Schools

  • Silke J. Forbes
  • Nora E. Gordon

We investigate decision-making and the potential for social learning among school administrators in the market for school reform consulting services. Specifically, we estimate whether public schools are more likely to choose given Comprehensive School Reform service providers if their "peer" schools--defined by common governance or geography--have performed unusually well with those providers in the past. We find strong evidence that schools tend to contract with providers used by other schools in their own districts in the past, regardless of past performance. In addition, our point estimates are consistent with school administrators using information from peers to choose the plans they perceive to have performed best in the past. Despite choosing a market with an unusually comprehensive data source on contracts between public schools and private firms, our statistical power is sufficiently weak that we cannot reject the absence of social learning.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w18185.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18185.

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Date of creation: Jun 2012
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Publication status: published as Silke Forbes & Nora Gordon, 2012. "When Educators Are the Learners: Private Contracting by Public Schools," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, Berkeley Electronic Press, vol. 12(1), pages 31.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18185
Note: ED IO PE
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  1. Julie Berry Cullen & Randall Reback, 2006. "Tinkering Toward Accolades: School Gaming Under a Performance Accountability System," NBER Working Papers 12286, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Seth Freedman & Melissa Kearney & Mara Lederman, 2012. "Product Recalls, Imperfect Information, and Spillover Effects: Lessons from the Consumer Response to the 2007 Toy Recalls," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(2), pages 499-516, May.
  3. Anonymous, 2010. "NAREA Awards," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association, vol. 39(3), October.
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