Bradley, Steve and Migali, Giuseppe and Taylor, James (2013) Funding, school specialisation and test scores : an evaluation of the specialist schools policy using matching models. Journal of Human Capital, 7 (1). pp. 76-106. ISSN 1932-8575
We evaluate the effect on test scores of a UK education reform which has increased funding of schools and encouraged their specialisation in particular subject areas, enhancing pupil choice and competition between schools. Using several data sets, we apply cross-sectional and difference-in-differences matching models, to confront issues of the choice of an appropriate control group and different forms of selection bias. We demonstrate a statistically significant causal effect of the specialist schools policy on test score outcomes. The duration of specialisation matters, and we consistently find that the longer a school has been specialist the larger is the impact on test scores. We finally disentangle the funding effect from a specialisation effect, and the latter occurs yielding relatively large improvements in test scores in particular subjects.
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