The Quality of Lower-Track Education: Evidence from Britain

46 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2022 Last revised: 12 Jun 2023

See all articles by Damon Clark

Damon Clark

University of California - Paul Merage School of Business - Economics/Health Care

Date Written: June 2022

Abstract

For much of the 20th century, British students were tracked into higher-track (for the "top" 20%) or lower-track (for the rest) secondary schools. Opponents of tracking contend that the lower-track schools in these systems will inevitably provide low-quality education. In this paper I examine this claim using a 1947 reform that increased the minimum school leaving age from 14 to 15. First, I show that over 95% of the students affected by the reform ("compliers") attended lower-track schools. Second, using new data, I show that for both men and women, the additional schooling induced by the reform had close to zero impact on a range of labor market outcomes including earnings. Third, I show that lower-track schools featured, among other things, large classes and a curriculum that promoted practical education. I conclude that my findings shed new light on the potential consequences of educational tracking.

Suggested Citation

Clark, Damon, The Quality of Lower-Track Education: Evidence from Britain (June 2022). NBER Working Paper No. w30174, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4147245

Damon Clark (Contact Author)

University of California - Paul Merage School of Business - Economics/Health Care ( email )

Irvine, CA 92697-3125
United States

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