School Markets: The Impact of Information Approximating Schools' Effectiveness
NBER Working Paper No. 13676
The impact of competition on academic outcomes is likely to depend on whether parents are informed about schools' effectiveness or valued added (which may or may not be correlated with absolute measures of their quality), and on whether this information influences their school choices, thereby affecting schools' market outcomes. To explore these issues, this paper considers Chile's SNED program, which seeks to identify effective schools, selecting them from within "homogeneous groups" of arguably comparable institutions. Its results are widely disseminated, and the information it generates is quite different from that conveyed by a simple test-based ranking of schools (which in Chile, turns out to largely resemble a ranking based on socioeconomic status). We rely on a sharp regression discontinuity to estimate the effect that being identified as a SNED winner has on schools’ enrollment, tuition levels, and socioeconomic composition. Through five applications of the program, we find no consistent evidence that winning a SNED award affects these outcomes. This suggests that information on school effectiveness -- at least as it is calculated and delivered by the SNED -- might not much affect school markets.