The Impact of Public School Choice: Evidence from Los Angeles’ Zones of Choice

84 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2023

See all articles by Christopher Campos

Christopher Campos

University of Chicago Booth School of Business; University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Caitlin Kearns

University of California, Berkeley

Date Written: July 13, 2023

Abstract

Does a school district that expands school choice provide better outcomes for students than a neighborhood-based assignment system? This paper studies the Zones of Choice program, a school choice initiative that created small high school markets in some neighborhoods but left attendance-zone boundaries in place throughout the rest of the district. We study market-level impacts of choice on student achievement and college enrollment using a differences-in-differences design. Student outcomes in ZOC markets increased markedly, narrowing achievement and college enrollment gaps between ZOC neighborhoods and the rest of the district. The effects of ZOC are larger for schools exposed to more competition, supporting the notion that competition is a key channel. Demand estimates suggest families place substantial weight on schools’ academic quality, providing schools with competition-induced incentives to improve their effectiveness. The evidence demonstrates that public school choice programs have the potential to improve school quality and reduce neighborhood-based disparities in educational opportunity.

JEL Classification: I21, I24

Suggested Citation

Campos, Christopher and Kearns, Caitlin, The Impact of Public School Choice: Evidence from Los Angeles’ Zones of Choice (July 13, 2023). University of Chicago, Becker Friedman Institute for Economics Working Paper No. 2023-89, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4515422 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4515422

Christopher Campos

University of Chicago Booth School of Business ( email )

Chicago, CA 60637
United States

HOME PAGE: http://cqcampos.com

University of Chicago Booth School of Business ( email )

Caitlin Kearns (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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