Robert Ainsworth, Rajeev Dehejia, Cristian Pop-Eleches , Miguel Urquiola, 07 February 2021

While giving households the freedom to choose their children’s schools is said to improve educational outcomes, households do not always choose the option that would boost their child’s performance the most. This column uses an informational experiment in Romania to examine whether households simply lack information about the schools’ ‘value-added’ or prefer to prioritise other school traits. When informed about the value-added of the local schools, households assigned higher preference ranks to high value-added schools. However, the experiment also affected the preferences of the students, suggesting that both information limitations and preferences seem to matter in school choice.

Anna McDougall, George Orlov, Douglas McKee, 10 December 2020

Many higher learning institutions have shifted to remote learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although research has found that online classes can be just as effective as in-person classes, there is evidence that suggests disadvantaged students may perform relatively worse. This column compares student performance on a set of standard assessments at four PhD-granting institutions in the US before and after the switch to online classes. It finds little evidence that disadvantaged groups were further disadvantaged by the pandemic in their college learning. Instructor experience with online teaching and the use of active-learning techniques have a positive effect on student outcomes.

Alex Bryson, Lorenzo Corsini, Irene Martelli, 24 November 2020

Public spending on education in Italy has been falling for many years, limiting the hiring of new permanent teachers and thus raising the average age of teachers in the country. This column considers the effect of allocating permanent teacher contracts to older teachers on student performance in upper-secondary schools in Tuscany. The findings suggest that a higher proportion of older teachers in a school has a negative effect on student performance. The government may need to do more to recruit younger cohorts of teachers into permanent posts, preferably through periodic intakes.

Sofoklis Goulas, Rigissa Megalokonomou, 11 January 2020

Exam scheduling may contribute to performance gaps between subjects, between males and females, as well as between students with differing performance histories. Using lottery-generated variation in exam timing at a Greek public high school, this column identifies three distinct channels through which exam scheduling can influence test performance. The simulation experiments show that the higher the number of exams taken, the higher the potential benefit from optimising exams scheduling.

Anna Vignoles, 19 May 2017

There have been discussions about expanding the number of grammar schools in the UK. In this video, Anna Vignoles discusses the impact it would have on the overall attainment of students. This video was recorded at the Royal Economic Society Annual Conference held in Bristol in April 2017.

Philip Oreopoulos, Uros Petronijevic, 13 November 2016

Questions over the value of a university education are underscored by negative student experiences. Personalised coaching is a promising, but costly, tool to improve student experiences and performance. This column presents the results from an experiment comparing coaching with lower cost ‘nudge’ interventions. While coaching led to a significant increase in average course grades, online and text message interventions had no effect. The benefits of coaching appear to derive from the trust-based nature of relationships and personalised attention.

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