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What is a Good School and Can Parents Tell? Evidence on the Multidimensionality of School Output (WP-18-32)

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

Is a school’s impact on high-stakes test scores a good measure of its overall impact on students? Do parents value school impacts on high-stakes tests, longer-run outcomes, or both? To answer the first question, the researchers apply quasi-experimental methods to data from Trinidad and Tobago and estimate the causal impacts of individual schools on several outcomes. Schools' impacts on highstakes tests are weakly related to impacts on low-stakes tests, dropout, crime, teen motherhood, and formal labor market participation. To answer the second question, they link estimated school impacts to parents’ ranked lists of schools and employ discrete choice models to estimate parental preferences.Parents value schools that causally improve high-stakes test scores conditional on average outcomes, proximity, and peer quality. Consistent with parents valuing the multidimensional output of schools, parents of high-achieving girls prefer schools that increase formal labor market participation, and parents of high-achieving boys prefer schools that reduce crime.

This paper is published in The Review of Economic Studies.

Diether Beuermann, Inter-American Development Bank

C. Kirabo Jackson, Professor of Human Development and Social Policy and IPR Fellow, Northwestern University

Laia Navarro-Sola, PhD Candidate, Department of Economics, Northwestern University 

Francisco Pardo, Inter-American Development Bank

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