Thursday, July 01, 2010

School quality information & school choice

The main purpose of providing information on school characteristics is that parents & students can make informed decisions about school choice. It is, after all, one of the most important decisions that parents make for their kids. All the more curious that the law in Ireland prohibits the publication of such information. But I digress.
The paper below looks at whether information on school quality does influence decisions about school choice. The effects seem rather small with students only prepared to travel 200 metres more to attend an above average school. Perhaps, there is very little variation in school quality or perhaps the Dutch are pathologically lazy.

Ranking the Schools: How Quality Information Affects School Choice in the Netherlands

Koning, Pierre &van der Wiel, Karen

This paper analyzes whether information on high school quality published by a national newspaper affects school choice in the Netherlands. For this purpose, we use both school level and individual student level data. First, we study the causal effect of quality scores on the influx of new high school students using a longitudinal school dataset. We find that negative (positive) school quality scores decrease (increase) the number of students choosing a school after the year of publication. The positive effects are particularly large for the academic school track. An academic school track receiving the most positive score sees its inflow of students rise by 15 to 20 students. Second, we study individual school choice behaviour to address the relative importance of the quality scores, as well as potential differences in the quality response between socio-economic groups.

Although the probability of attending a school is affected by its quality score, it is mainly driven by the travelling distance.

Students are only willing to travel about 200 meters more in order to attend a well-performing rather than an average school. In contrast to equity concerns that are often raised, we cannot find differences in information responses between socio-economic groups.

No comments: