NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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What is a Good School, and Can Parents Tell? Evidence on the Multidimensionality of School Output

Diether Beuermann, C. Kirabo Jackson, Laia Navarro-Sola, Francisco Pardo

NBER Working Paper No. 25342
Issued in December 2018, Revised in September 2020
NBER Program(s):Children, Development Economics, Economics of Education, Labor Studies, Public Economics

To explore whether schools’ causal impacts on test-scores measure their overall impact on students, we exploit quasi-random school assignments and data from Trinidad and Tobago to estimate the causal impacts of individual schools on several outcomes. Schools’ impacts on high-stakes tests are moderately related to impacts on crime but weakly related to impacts on important outcomes such as dropout, teen motherhood, and formal labor-market participa-tion. To examine if parents value these causal impacts, we link them to parents’ ranked lists of schools and employ discrete-choice models to infer preferences for school attributes. Many parents choose schools that improve high-stakes tests, that reduce criminality, and increase labor-market participation. Notably, many parents’ choices indicate stronger preferences for impacts on non-academic outcomes than test-score impacts. These results reveal that evalua-tions based solely on test scores may be very misleading about the benefits of school choice, and education interventions more broadly.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25342

 
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