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The Impact of Chicago's Small High School Initiative

Lisa Barrow (), Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach and Amy Claessens
Additional contact information
Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach: Northwestern University
Amy Claessens: University of Chicago

No WP-2014-20, Working Paper Series from Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Abstract: This project examines the effects of the introduction of new small high schools on student performance in the Chicago Public School (CPS) district. Specifically, we investigate whether students attending small high schools have better graduation/enrollment rates and achievement than similar students who attend regular CPS high schools. We show that students who choose to attend a small school are more disadvantaged on average, including having prior test scores that are about 0.2 standard deviations lower than their elementary school classmates. To address the selection problem, we use an instrumental variables strategy and compare students who live in the same neighborhoods but differ in their residential proximity to a small school. In this approach, one student is more likely to sign up for a small school than another statistically identical student because the small school is located closer to the student’s house and therefore the “cost” of attending the school is lower. The distance-to-small-school variable has strong predictive power to identify who attends a small school. We find that small schools students are substantially more likely to persist in school and eventually graduate. Nonetheless, there is no positive impact on student achievement as measured by test scores.

Keywords: Chicago Public School (CPS); high school (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I21 I24 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-edu and nep-ure
Date: 2014-11-01
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Related works:
Journal Article: The impact of Chicago’s small high school initiative (2015) Downloads
Working Paper: The Impact of Chicago's Small High School Initiative (2013) Downloads
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