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The Effect of School Choice on Student Outcomes: Evidence from Randomized Lotteries

Julie Cullen (), Brian A. Jacob and Steven Levitt ()

No 10113, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: School choice has become an increasingly prominent strategy for urban school districts seeking to enhance academic achievement. Evaluating the impact of such programs is complicated by the fact that a highly select sample of students takes advantage of these programs. To overcome this difficulty, we exploit randomized lotteries that determine high school admission in the Chicago Public Schools. Surprisingly, we find little evidence that attending sought after programs provides any benefit on a wide variety of traditional academic measures, including standardized test scores, attendance rates, course-taking, and credit accumulation. This is true despite the fact that those students who win the lotteries attend better high schools along a number of dimensions, including higher peer achievement levels, higher peer graduation rates, and lower levels of poverty. We do, however, uncover evidence that attendance at such schools may improve a subset of non-traditional outcome measures, such as self-reported disciplinary incidences and arrest rates.

JEL-codes: I28 H72 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-edu, nep-lab, nep-pbe and nep-ure
Date: 2003-11
Note: ED PE CH
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Published as Cullen, Julie Berry, Brian A. Jacob, and Steven D. Levitt. “The effect of school choice on participants: evidence from randomized lotteries." Econometrica 74, 5 (2006): 1191-1230.

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