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The Effect of School Choice on Intrinsic Motivation and Academic Outcomes

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  • Justine S. Hastings
  • Christopher A. Neilson
  • Seth D. Zimmerman

Abstract

Using data on student outcomes and school choice lotteries from a low-income urban school district, we examine how school choice can affect student outcomes through increased motivation and personal effort as well as through improved school and peer inputs. First we use unique daily data on individual-level student absences and suspensions to show that lottery winners have significantly lower truancies after they learn about lottery outcomes but before they enroll in their new schools. The effects are largest for male students entering high school, whose truancy rates decline by 21% in the months after winning the lottery. We then examine the impact attending a chosen school has on student test score outcomes. We find substantial test score gains from attending a charter school and some evidence that choosing and attending a high value-added magnet school improves test scores as well. Our results contribute to current evidence that school choice programs can effectively raise test scores of participants. Our findings suggest that this may occur both through an immediate effect on student behavior and through the benefit of attending a higher-performing school.

Suggested Citation

  • Justine S. Hastings & Christopher A. Neilson & Seth D. Zimmerman, 2012. "The Effect of School Choice on Intrinsic Motivation and Academic Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 18324, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18324
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Julie Berry Cullen & Brian A Jacob & Steven Levitt, 2006. "The Effect of School Choice on Participants: Evidence from Randomized Lotteries," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(5), pages 1191-1230, September.
    2. Keisuke Hirano & Guido W. Imbens & Geert Ridder, 2003. "Efficient Estimation of Average Treatment Effects Using the Estimated Propensity Score," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(4), pages 1161-1189, July.
    3. Hastings, Justine S. & Kane, Thomas J. & Staiger, Douglas O. & Weinstein, Jeffrey M., 2007. "The effect of randomized school admissions on voter participation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(5-6), pages 915-937, June.
    4. Joshua D. Angrist & Susan M. Dynarski & Thomas J. Kane & Parag A. Pathak & Christopher R. Walters, 2012. "Who Benefits from KIPP?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 31(4), pages 837-860, September.
    5. Barsky R. & Bound J. & Charles K.K. & Lupton J.P., 2002. "Accounting for the Black-White Wealth Gap: A Nonparametric Approach," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 97, pages 663-673, September.
    6. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 411-482, July.
    7. Justine S. Hastings & Jeffrey M. Weinstein, 2008. "Information, School Choice, and Academic Achievement: Evidence from Two Experiments," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1373-1414.
    8. Joshua Angrist & Eric Bettinger & Michael Kremer, 2006. "Long-Term Educational Consequences of Secondary School Vouchers: Evidence from Administrative Records in Colombia," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 847-862, June.
    9. David J. Deming & Justine S. Hastings & Thomas J. Kane & Douglas O. Staiger, 2014. "School Choice, School Quality, and Postsecondary Attainment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(3), pages 991-1013, March.
    10. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    11. Guido W. Imbens, 2004. "Nonparametric Estimation of Average Treatment Effects Under Exogeneity: A Review," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 4-29, February.
    12. Justine S. Hastings & Thomas J. Kane & Douglas O. Staiger, 2006. "Preferences and Heterogeneous Treatment Effects in a Public School Choice Lottery," NBER Working Papers 12145, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Caroline M. Hoxby & Sonali Murarka, 2009. "Charter Schools in New York City: Who Enrolls and How They Affect Their Students' Achievement," NBER Working Papers 14852, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Calsamiglia, Caterina & Güell, Maia, 2014. "The Illusion of School Choice: Empirical Evidence from Barcelona," IZA Discussion Papers 8202, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Clément de Chaisemartin & Luc Behaghel, 2020. "Estimating the Effect of Treatments Allocated by Randomized Waiting Lists," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 88(4), pages 1453-1477, July.
    3. Erich Battistin & Antonio Schizzerotto, 2019. "Threat of grade retention, remedial education and student achievement: evidence from upper secondary schools in Italy," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 56(2), pages 651-678, February.
    4. Friesen, Jane & Harris, Benjamin Cerf & Woodcock, Simon, 2013. "Open Enrolment and Student Achievement," CLSSRN working papers clsrn_admin-2013-46, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 22 Mar 2014.
    5. Neilson, Christopher A. & Zimmerman, Seth D., 2014. "The effect of school construction on test scores, school enrollment, and home prices," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 18-31.
    6. Akyol, Pelin & Krishna, Kala, 2017. "Preferences, selection, and value added: A structural approach," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 89-117.
    7. Grau, Nicolás, 2018. "The impact of college admissions policies on the academic effort of high school students," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 58-92.
    8. Fortson, Kenneth & Gleason, Philip & Kopa, Emma & Verbitsky-Savitz, Natalya, 2015. "Horseshoes, hand grenades, and treatment effects? Reassessing whether nonexperimental estimators are biased," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 100-113.
    9. David J. Deming & Justine S. Hastings & Thomas J. Kane & Douglas O. Staiger, 2014. "School Choice, School Quality, and Postsecondary Attainment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(3), pages 991-1013, March.
    10. Yusuke Narita, 2020. "A Theory of Quasi-Experimental Evaluation of School Quality," Working Papers 2020-085, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    11. Cook, Jason B., 2018. "Race-Blind Admissions, School Segregation, and Student Outcomes: Evidence from Race-Blind Magnet School Lotteries," IZA Discussion Papers 11909, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality

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