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.
For useful feedback we are thankful to Josh Angrist, Ken Chay, Damon Clark, Rajeev Dehejia, Caroline Hoxby, Chang-Tai Hsieh, Lawrence Katz, Ofer Malamud, Richard Murnane, Jonah Rockoff, Amy Schwartz, Douglas Staiger, and Eric Verhoogen; for contributions at early stages of the project, to Andreea Balan. For excellent research assistance we thank Anindya Roy. For financial support, we are grateful to the National Science Foundation (SES 0819776), and to Columbia's Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (ISERP) and Program for Economic Research (PER). Urquiola is also grateful to the Russell Sage Foundation. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
“Going to a Better School: Effects and Behavioral Respons es,” joint with Miguel Urquiola , American Economic Review , 103(4), 1289 - 1324, 201 3 citation courtesy of