Lisa Barrow

Senior Economist and Research Advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Good Kids, Good Peers, or Good Schools?: The Impact of Selective Enrollment High Schools in Chicago
Thursday, February 19, 2015 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm


CERAS Learning Hall

Prestigious selective enrollment public schools have been in existence in the U.S. for more than 100 years. Recent work in economics has suggested that many of the apparent advantages of attending these schools are due to selection. See Adulkadiroglu, et al. (2014) and Dobbie and Fryer (2014) for evidence from Boston and New York City that these schools have no impact on outcomes such as test scores, college enrollment, and graduation. Selective enrollment public high schools (SEHS) are a relatively newer phenomenon in Chicago. However, admission quotas based on student’s neighborhood socioeconomic rank and the availability of survey data on a variety of other outcomes such as peer relationships and safety allow us to examine whether these schools have different impacts on students coming from more disadvantaged neighborhoods and whether these schools may be highly desirable to parents and students because of other nonacademic impacts. Using a RDD and outcomes for 9th grade students we find that students enrolling in a SEHS have similar test scores to those not admitted, even for students coming from the most disadvantaged neighborhoods. We find SEHS students earn lower GPAs but report better peer relationships and peer support and higher levels of teacher-student trust.