School Performance: Information, Choice and Interventions
Friday, Jan. 6, 2017 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
- Chair: Petra Todd, University of Pennsylvania
The Importance of Information Targeting for School Choice Decisions
AbstractEven though school choice programs are common in many education systems, we know little about the underlying decision-making process. Typically the household is modeled as a unitary decision maker, yet the preferences and information sets of students and their parents might differ. Knowing the identity of the ultimate decision maker and how information affects the decision has crucial implications for the design of school-choice systems, policies to increase participation in such schemes, and the most effective ways to disseminate information. The key conceptual difficulties in modeling the decision-making process and the role of information in that process are the lack of data and the endogenous allocation of information. In this study, we experimentally vary information provision to both students and their parents and observe changes in beliefs, behaviors, and the decision maker’s identity. We designed a large randomized controlled trial of information provision in Ghana. At the end of grade 9, students select senior high schools without knowing crucial school characteristics. In order to remedy this deficit, we created a school-based information campaign that we tested through an RCT across a study population of 900 government schools. We implemented three study arms: (1) screening of an informational video and providing a booklet of senior high school information to students, (2) treatment one plus an information session for parents, and (3) the control group. Both before and after the intervention and the school selection process, we surveyed parents and students about their prior beliefs and preferences and the decision-making processes in their households. Our findings build on earlier work examining school choice decisions and the importance of the decision maker. Our paper is the first to test for changes in beliefs, behaviors, and the identity of the decision maker, uncovering the mechanisms behind observed school choices. I21,I25,D83.
Incentives for Effort or Outputs? A Field Experiment to Improve Student Performance
AbstractOne key choice in designing an incentive is whether to reward outcomes directly (outputs) or to reward the actions and behaviors that lead to those outcomes (effort/inputs). I conduct a novel direct test of an input incentive designed to increase student effort against both an output incentive and a control that does not receive an incentive. The interventions were implemented in a classroom-level randomized experiment with school children in India. A math software curriculum is implemented in all classrooms regardless of treatment assignment. It includes learning modules (the incentivized input) that are completed throughout a unit as well as a test at the end of the unit (the incentivized output). Students who receive an input incentive perform .57 standard deviations better than the control group on a non-incentivized outcome test. This performance is statistically significantly larger than the impact of the output incentive (which is .24 standard deviations and not significant relative to the control). The input incentive is also almost twice as cost-effective as the output incentive. These results provide evidence that there can be large returns to directly inducing student effort in the classroom. The input incentive works better for present-biased students along an incentive-compatible measure of time preferences collected at baseline, which provides evidence to support the hypothesis that more frequent payments can address time inconsistency. This study also provides direct evidence that piecerate input incentives can be more effective than piecerate output incentives. JEL Codes: C93, D99, I21, M52, O15.
Do One-to-One Laptop Programs Improve Student Outcomes? Evidence From Mooresville's Digital Conversion Initiative
AbstractNew technologies offer many promises to improve student learning, but efforts to bring them to the classroom often fail to produce improvements to student outcomes. A notable exception to this pattern is one-to-one laptop programs. While early evaluations of these programs have been encouraging, they are costly to implement, and no study has investigated the impact of a one-to-one technology program implemented on a large scale over a multiyear period. With administrative school data, this paper uses a differences-in-differences strategy to evaluate the impact of a one-to-one laptop program implemented in a midsize school district. We find that while short-term impacts of the program were modest, math scores improved by 0.14-0.16 standard deviations in the medium term (4-5 years post-implementation). We also investigate the impact of the program on several measures of student behavior, finding that time spent on homework increased with implementation. JEL Codes: I21, J24, O33.
- I0 - General