School Choice and the Distributional Effects of Ability Tracking: Does Separation Increase Equality?

38 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2000 Last revised: 7 Jul 2022

See all articles by David N. Figlio

David N. Figlio

Northwestern University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Marianne Page

University of California, Davis

Date Written: December 2000

Abstract

Tracking programs have been criticized on the grounds that they harm disadvantaged children. The bulk of empirical research supports this view. These studies are conducted by comparing outcomes for across students placed in different tracks. Track placement, however, is likely to be endogenous with respect to outcomes. We use a new strategy for overcoming the endogeneity of track placement and find no evidence that tracking hurts low-ability children. We also demonstrate that tracking programs help schools attract more affluent students. Previous studies have been based on the assumption that students' enrollment decisions are unrelated to whether or not the school tracks. When we take school choice into account, we find evidence that low-ability children may be helped by tracking programs.

Suggested Citation

Figlio, David N. and Page, Marianne, School Choice and the Distributional Effects of Ability Tracking: Does Separation Increase Equality? (December 2000). NBER Working Paper No. w8055, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=254016

David N. Figlio (Contact Author)

Northwestern University ( email )

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Marianne Page

University of California, Davis ( email )

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