PROJECT

EXTERNAL VALIDITY OF SCHOOL CHOICE EFFECTS: EVIDENCE FROM 350 MARKETS

Researcher: Miguel Urquiola and Kiki Pop-Eleches with Robert Ainsworth, Rajeev Dehejia, and Miikka Rokkanen

A key question in education is how parents choose schools. The answer to this question is crucial to knowing what would be the effect of giving parents greater school choice (as is done, for example, by charter school and school voucher reforms). If parents choose schools based on their effectiveness at teaching their children, then economic theory suggests that choice reforms will raise learning. However, if parents choose schools based on aspects like infrastructure quality, then greater choice will only result in the greater provision of such attributes. This study plans to investigate what factors parents have in mind when they choose schools for their children. The proposed study will be based in Romania, where parents chooses among public high schools in a systematic and transparent process by which they submit a list of ranked schools they would like their children to attend. A first component of the study would explore the issue indirectly, using administrative, publically available data from Romania (collected by the Ministry of Education and made available online). A second component would include an information intervention in which some of this publically available information is aggregated and made salient to parents beginning the process of selecting secondary schools for their children. This intervention will include information on how schools perform in both admissions and exit exams. The study will use the grant funds to survey the parents about the list of school choices they submitted. An analysis of their subsequent application behavior would provide an indication of whether they consider testing- related school performance in their decisions.