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


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.

 

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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