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Small High Schools and Student Achievement: Lottery-Based Evidence from New York City

Author

Listed:
  • Atila Abdulkadiroğlu
  • Weiwei Hu
  • Parag A. Pathak

Abstract

One of the most wide-ranging reforms in public education in the last decade has been the reorganization of large comprehensive high schools into small schools with roughly 100 students per grade. We use assignment lotteries embedded in New York City's high school match to estimate the effects of attendance at a new small high school on student achievement. More than 150 unselective small high schools created between 2002 and 2008 have enhanced autonomy, but operate within-district with traditional public school teachers, principals, and collectively-bargained work rules. Lottery estimates show positive score gains in Mathematics, English, Science, and History, more credit accumulation, and higher graduation rates. Small school attendance causes a substantial increase in college enrollment, with a marked shift to CUNY institutions. Students are also less likely to require remediation in reading and writing when at college. Detailed school surveys indicate that students at small schools are more engaged and closely monitored, despite fewer course offerings and activities. Teachers report greater feedback, increased safety, and improved collaboration. The results show that school size is an important factor in education production and highlight the potential for within-district reform strategies to substantially improve student achievement.

Suggested Citation

  • Atila Abdulkadiroğlu & Weiwei Hu & Parag A. Pathak, 2013. "Small High Schools and Student Achievement: Lottery-Based Evidence from New York City," NBER Working Papers 19576, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19576
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Min Zhu, 2015. "Experience Transmission : Truth-telling Adoption in Matching," Working Papers 1518, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique Lyon St-Étienne (GATE Lyon St-Étienne), Université de Lyon.
    2. Timothy J. Bartik & Marta Lachowska, 2014. "The Effects of Doubling Instruction Efforts on Middle School Students' Achievement: Evidence from a Multiyear Regression-Discontinuity Design," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 14-205, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    3. Min Zhu, 2015. "Experience Transmission: Truth-telling Adoption in Matching," Working Papers halshs-01176926, HAL.
    4. Sean P. Corcoran & Jennifer L. Jennings & Sarah R. Cohodes & Carolyn Sattin-Bajaj, 2018. "Leveling the Playing Field for High School Choice: Results from a Field Experiment of Informational Interventions," NBER Working Papers 24471, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Barrow, Lisa & Schanzenbach, Diane Whitmore & Claessens, Amy, 2015. "The impact of Chicago’s small high school initiative," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 100-113.
    6. Louise Voldby Beuchert & Maria Knoth Humlum & Helena Skyt Nielsen & Nina Smith, 2016. "The Short-Term Effects of School Consolidation on Student Achievement: Evidence of Disruption?," CESifo Working Paper Series 6082, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Holmlund, Helena & Böhlmark, Anders, 2017. "Does grade configuration matter for school performance? Short- and long-run effects of school reorganisation," Working Paper Series 2017:6, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    8. Atila Abdulkadiroğlu & Joshua D. Angrist & Yusuke Narita & Parag A. Pathak, 2017. "Research Design Meets Market Design: Using Centralized Assignment for Impact Evaluation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 85, pages 1373-1432, September.
    9. Beuchert, Louise & Humlum, Maria Knoth & Nielsen, Helena Skyt & Smith, Nina, 2018. "The short-term effects of school consolidation on student achievement: Evidence of disruption?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 31-47.
    10. Atila Abdulkadiroğlu & Nikhil Agarwal & Parag A. Pathak, 2015. "The Welfare Effects of Coordinated Assignment: Evidence from the NYC HS Match," NBER Working Papers 21046, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H52 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Education
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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