The Impact of School Choice on Student Outcomes: An Analysis of the Chicago Public Schools

50 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2000 Last revised: 19 Oct 2010

Julie Berry Cullen

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Brian Jacob

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Steven D. Levitt

University of Chicago; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); American Bar Foundation

Date Written: September 2000

Abstract

Current education reform proposals involve improving educational outcomes through forms of market-based competition and expanded parental choice. In this paper, we explore the impact of choice through open enrollment within the Chicago Public Schools (CPS). Roughly half of the students within CPS opt out of their assigned high school to attend other neighborhood schools or special career academies and magnet schools. Access to school choice dramatically increases student sorting by ability relative to neighborhood assignment. Students who opt out are more likely to graduate than observationally similar students who remain at their assigned schools. However, with the exception of those attending career academies, the gains appear to be largely spurious driven by the fact that more motivated students are disproportionately likely to opt out. Students with easy geographical access to a range of schools other than career academies (who presumably have a greater degree of school choice) are no more likely to graduate on average than students in more isolated areas. We find no evidence that this finding can be explained by negative spillovers to those who remain that mask gains to those who travel. Open enrollment apparently benefits those students who take advantage of having access to vocational programs without harming those who do not.

Suggested Citation

Cullen, Julie Berry and Jacob, Brian and Levitt, Steven D., The Impact of School Choice on Student Outcomes: An Analysis of the Chicago Public Schools (September 2000). NBER Working Paper No. w7888. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=241378

Julianne (Julie) Berry Cullen (Contact Author)

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Economics ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0508
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Brian Jacob

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-384-7968 (Phone)
617-496-5747 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Steven D. Levitt

University of Chicago ( email )

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-834-1862 (Phone)
773-702-8490 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

American Bar Foundation

750 N. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
119
rank
215,451
Abstract Views
2,159
PlumX