System Working Paper 17-02

The Role of Selective High Schools in Equalizing Educational Outcomes: Heterogeneous Effects by Neighborhood Socioeconomic Status

Lisa Barrow | Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
Lauren Sartain | University of Chicago Consortium on School Research
Marisa de la Torre | University of Chicago Consortium on School Research

Published January 18, 2017

We investigate whether elite Chicago public high schools can help close the achievement gap between high-achieving students from more and less affluent neighborhoods. Seats are allocated based on prior achievement with 70 percent reserved for high-achieving applicants from four neighborhood socioeconomic status (SES) categories. Using regression discontinuity design, we find no effect on test scores or college attendance for students from high- or low-SES neighborhoods and positive effects on student reports of their experiences. For students from low-SES neighborhoods, we estimate significant negative effects on rank in high school, grades, and the probability of attending a selective college.

Read the PDF ›