The Effect of High Stakes High School Achievement Awards: Evidence from a School-Centered Randomized Trial

40 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2004

See all articles by Joshua D. Angrist

Joshua D. Angrist

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Victor Lavy

University of Warwick - Department of Economics; Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: May 2004

Abstract

In many countries, college-bound high school seniors must pass a test or series of tests. In Israel, this requirement is known as the "Bagrut", or matriculation certificate, obtained by passing a series of subject tests. In spite of the Bagrut's value, Israeli society is marked by vast differences in Bagrut rates by region and socioeconomic status. We attempted to increase the likelihood of Bagrut certification among low-achieving students by offering substantial cash incentives to high school seniors in an experimental demonstration program. As a theoretical matter, such incentives may be helpful if low-achieving students reduce investment in schooling because of high discount rates, part-time work, or face peer pressure not to study. The experiment studied here used a school-based randomization design offering awards to all students in treated schools who passed their exams. Randomization was imperfect because of the clustered design. We discuss alternative strategies for dealing with clustering in research of this type. On balance, the estimates point to a substantial and statistically significant treatment effect for students close to the margin for certification. We also look at a number of mediating outcomes in an effort to determine how students responded to incentives. These results show students took more tests and were more likely to accumulate the number of credit units required for Bagrut success.

Keywords: performance incentives, school reform, clustering

JEL Classification: I21, I28, C93

Suggested Citation

Angrist, Joshua and Lavy, Victor, The Effect of High Stakes High School Achievement Awards: Evidence from a School-Centered Randomized Trial (May 2004). IZA Discussion Paper No. 1146. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=553861

Joshua Angrist (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

50 Memorial Drive
E52-353
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-8909 (Phone)
617-253-1330 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Victor Lavy

University of Warwick - Department of Economics ( email )

Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics ( email )

Mount Scopus
Jerusalem, 91905
Israel
+972 2 588 3245 (Phone)
+972 2 581 6071 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
179
Abstract Views
1,721
rank
174,847
PlumX Metrics