Heterogeneous effects of comprehensive vs. single-track academic schools: Evidence from admission lotteries

Hessel Oosterbeek and Nienke Ruijs and Inge de Wolf

We use admission lotteries to study how enrollment in a single-track academic school instead of a comprehensive school affects achievement of students in Amsterdam. Enrollment in a single-track academic school implies exposure to better peers and peers from more affluent neighborhoods, while school resources and the school curriculum are unchanged. Different groups of students are differentially affected by this treatment. Girls from lower-income neighborhoods benefit whereas boys from these neighborhoods are harmed. For students from higher-income neighborhoods, it does not matter which type of school they attend. Furthermore, we find that value-added estimates of the effects of single-track academic schools are severly biased upwards. This is because students who are placed with priority in single-track academic school as well as always takers perform above average while students who do not apply for single-track academic schools perform below average.

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