The Effect of School Choice on Intrinsic Motivation and Academic Outcomes

36 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2012

See all articles by Justine S. Hastings

Justine S. Hastings

Brown University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Chris Neilson

Yale University - Department of Economics

Seth D. Zimmerman

Yale University; University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Date Written: August 2012

Abstract

Using data on student outcomes and school choice lotteries from a low-income urban school district, we examine how school choice can affect student outcomes through increased motivation and personal effort as well as through improved school and peer inputs. First we use unique daily data on individual-level student absences and suspensions to show that lottery winners have significantly lower truancies after they learn about lottery outcomes but before they enroll in their new schools. The effects are largest for male students entering high school, whose truancy rates decline by 21% in the months after winning the lottery. We then examine the impact attending a chosen school has on student test score outcomes. We find substantial test score gains from attending a charter school and some evidence that choosing and attending a high value-added magnet school improves test scores as well. Our results contribute to current evidence that school choice programs can effectively raise test scores of participants. Our findings suggest that this may occur both through an immediate effect on student behavior and through the benefit of attending a higher-performing school.

Suggested Citation

Hastings, Justine and Neilson, Chris and Zimmerman, Seth D., The Effect of School Choice on Intrinsic Motivation and Academic Outcomes (August 2012). NBER Working Paper No. w18324, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2131694

Justine Hastings (Contact Author)

Brown University ( email )

Box 1860
Providence, RI 02912
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Chris Neilson

Yale University - Department of Economics ( email )

28 Hillhouse Ave
New Haven, CT 06520-8268
United States

Seth D. Zimmerman

Yale University ( email )

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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