Essays on the economics of education

Regan-Stansfield, Joe (2018) Essays on the economics of education. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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This thesis consists of three original research articles relating to schooling in England. The first research chapter evaluates a recent English education policy which encourages state primary schools to become academies: state-funded, non-selective, and highly autonomous establishments. The chapter investigates the causal effect of converting to an academy on assessment outcomes, and on entry-year intake composition. Unlike existing evidence focused on academies formed from failing secondary schools, no evidence is found of a converter academy effect on attainment for the average pupil. There is no evidence that becoming a converter academy affects the composition of the entry-year intake. Standardised tests are a common, yet contentious, feature of many countries’ schools. In April 2010, two UK teachers’ unions boycotted mandatory age eleven standardised tests. The second research chapter uses a difference-in-differences strategy to estimate the effect of preparing for, but ultimately not completing, standardised tests on subsequent measures of attainment. The chapter finds evidence of a statistically significant adverse effect on age 14 teacher assessed attainment and age 16 secondary school qualification attainment. However, substantial treatment effect heterogeneity exists between sub-groups of pupils. Potential mechanisms are discussed, particularly the role of target setting. Standardised tests often facilitate school accountability, and pupils usually receive grades (or other feedback) based on their performance. However, providing feedback is not necessary for school accountability. The third research chapter evaluates the effect of receiving integer grades based on a series of low-stakes standardised tests taken by eleven-year-olds in England. The chapter uses raw test marks, typically unobserved by pupils, and grade thresholds to implement a sharp regression discontinuity design. The results indicate that just passing the cut-off to achieve a higher grade in these tests leads to an improvement in secondary school qualification attainment. The estimated effect of just crossing a grade cut-off on secondary school attainment is typically larger for economically disadvantaged pupils. The chapter finds no evidence of an effect on school attendance.

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Thesis (PhD)
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18 Dec 2018 11:03
Last Modified:
31 Oct 2023 01:15