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Who Benefits from Attending Effective Schools? Examining Heterogeneity in High School Impacts (WP-20-54)

Kirabo Jackson, Shanette Porter, John Q. Easton, and Sebastián Kiguel

The researchers estimate the longer-run effects of attending an effective high school (one that improves a combination of test scores, survey measures of socio-emotional development, and behaviors in 9th grade) for students who are more versus less educationally advantaged (i.e., likely to attain more years of education based on 8th-grade characteristics). All students benefit from attending effective schools, but the least advantaged students experience larger improvements in high-school graduation, college going, and school-based arrests. This heterogeneity is not solely due to less-advantaged groups being marginal for particular outcomes. Commonly used test-score value-added understates the long-run importance of effective schools, particularly for less-advantaged populations. Patterns suggest this partly reflects less-advantaged students being relatively more responsive to non-test-score dimensions of school quality.

Kirabo Jackson, Abraham Harris Professor of Education and Social Policy and IPR Fellow, Northwestern University

Sebastián Kiguel, Human Development and Social Policy and IPR Graduate Research Assistant, Northwestern University

Shanette Porter, Director of Research and Senior Fellow, Student Experience Research Network

John Q. Easton, Senior Fellow, UChicago Consortium on School Research


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