Does Information Help Families Choose Schools? Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design
Michael Henderson
Harvard Kennedy School Program on Education Policy and Governance
August 2010


Does public information about school quality lead parents to sort their children out of schools with relatively poor performance? Use of this exit option in response to information about school quality has the potential to indirectly foster school responsiveness to quality concerns. To determine whether this information aects student exit, I use a regression discontinuity design to examine the eect of school grades on exit. Results indicate that parents do not seem to respond to information about school quality generally and, thus, cast doubt on the eectiveness of indirect accountability to promote educational improvement. However, there is limited evidence that particularly poor school performance accompanied by institutional mechanisms for school choice promote student sorting away from low-quality schools.

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