Going to a Better School: Effects and Behavioral Responses
This paper: i) estimates the effect that going to a better school has on students' academic achievement, and ii) explores whether this intervention induces behavioral responses on the part of children, their parents, and the school system. For the first task, we exploit almost 2,000 regression discontinuity quasi-experiments observed in the context of Romania's high school educational system. For the second, we use data from a specialized survey of children, parents, teachers and principals that we implemented in 59 Romanian towns. The first finding is that students do benefit from access to higher achieving schools and tracks within schools. A second set of results suggests that the stratification of schools by quality in general, and the opportunity to attend a better school in particular, result in significant behavioral responses on the part of teachers, parents, and students. Although we do not expect the magnitude or even the direction of these responses to hold everywhere, their existence has a number of implications for evaluation, particularly since some of them change over time, and some would seem to be relevant only once interventions reach a certain scale.
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