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

System Working Paper 17-02 | Published January 18, 2017

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Authors

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

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

Abstract

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.