What is a Good School, and Can Parents Tell? Evidence on the Multidimensionality of School Output

100 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2018 Last revised: 31 Mar 2022

See all articles by Diether W. Beuermann

Diether W. Beuermann

University of Maryland - College Park; Durham Business School; Inter-American Development Bank (IADB); Universidad de Lima - Facultad de Economia

C. Kirabo Jackson

Northwestern University

Laia Navarro-Sola

Northwestern University

Francisco Pardo

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

Date Written: December 2018

Abstract

To explore whether schools’ causal impacts on test scores measure their overall impact on students, we exploit plausibly exogenous school assignments and data from Trinidad and Tobago to estimate the causal impacts of individual schools on several outcomes. Schools’ impacts on high-stakes tests are weakly related to impacts on important outcomes such as arrests, dropout, teen motherhood, and formal labor-market participation. To examine if parents’ school preferences are related to these causal impacts, we link them to parents’ ranked lists of schools and employ discrete-choice models to infer preferences for schools. Parents choose schools that improve high-stakes tests even conditional on peer quality and average outcomes. Parents also choose schools that reduce criminality and teen motherhood, and increase labor market participation. School choices among parents of low-achieving students are relatively more strongly related to schools’ impacts on non-test-score outcomes, while the opposite is true for parents of high-achieving students. These results suggest that evaluations based solely on test scores may be misleading about the benefits of school choice (particularity for low-achieving students), and education interventions more broadly.

Suggested Citation

Beuermann, Diether Wolfgang and Kirabo Jackson, C. and Navarro-Sola, Laia and Pardo, Francisco, What is a Good School, and Can Parents Tell? Evidence on the Multidimensionality of School Output (December 2018). NBER Working Paper No. w25342, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3298817

Diether Wolfgang Beuermann (Contact Author)

University of Maryland - College Park ( email )

College Park, MD 20742
United States
240-838-9376 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.umd.edu/~beuermann

Durham Business School ( email )

Mill Hill Lane
Durham, Durham DH1 3LB
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.dur.ac.uk/dbs

Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.iadb.org

Universidad de Lima - Facultad de Economia ( email )

Av. Javier Prado Este s/n
Lima, Lima 33
Peru

HOME PAGE: http://www.ulima.edu.pe

C. Kirabo Jackson

Northwestern University ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

Laia Navarro-Sola

Northwestern University

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

Francisco Pardo

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) ( email )

1300 New York Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20577
United States

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