The "Good" Schools: Academic Performance Data, School Choice, and Segregation
The "Good" Schools: Academic Performance Data, School Choice, and Segregation

Published Online in:
June 8, 2023

David M. HoustonGeorge Mason University
Jeffrey R. HenigTeachers College, Columbia University

We examine the effects of disseminating school-level academic performance data—either achievement status, achievement growth, or both—on parents’ school choices and their implications for racial, ethnic, and economic segregation. Many researchers consider growth to be a superior (if still imperfect) measure of school effectiveness relative to status. Moreover, compared to status, growth has weaker relationships with schools’ demographic compositions. We conduct an online survey experiment featuring a nationally representative sample of parents and caretakers of children age 0-12. Participants choose between three randomly sampled elementary schools drawn from the same school district. The provision of status information guides participants toward schools with higher achievement status and fewer Black, Hispanic, and economically disadvantaged students. The provision of growth information and the provision of both types of academic performance data guide participants toward higher growth schools. However, only growth information—alone and not in concert with status information—tends to elicit choices with desegregating consequences.

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Read the press release: "Giving Parents Better School Quality Data Encourages Them to Consider Less Affluent, Less White Schools—To a Point"

Study citation: Houston, D. M., & Henig, J. R. (2023). The “good” schools: Academic performance data, school choice, and segregation. AERA Open9(1), 1–18.