May 11, 2010

Ranking the schools: How quality information affects school choice in the Netherlands

Kwaliteitsinformatie maakt verschil in voortgezet onderwijs

Press release
Sinds 1997 publiceert het dagblad Trouw jaarlijks kwaliteitsinformatie over scholen in het voortgezet onderwijs (de ´Schoolprestaties´). Het integrale eindoordeel dat Trouw hierbij per school publiceert, beïnvloedt de schoolkeuze van ouders en leerlingen.

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Both school level and individual student level data indicate that information on highschool quality published by a national newspaper affects school choice in the Netherlands. The positive effects are particularly large for the academic school track. 

First, we study the causal effect of quality scores on the influx of new highschool students using a longitudinal school dataset. We find that negative (positive) school quality scores decrease (increase) the number of students choosing a school after the year of publication. An academic school track receiving the most positive score sees its inflow of students rise by 15 to 20 students.

Second, we study individual school choice behavior to address the relative importance of the quality scores, as well as potential differences in the quality response between socio-economic groups. Although the probability of attending a school is affected by its quality score, it is mainly driven by the traveling distance. Students are willing to travel only about 200 meters more to attend a well-performing rather than an average school. In contrast to equity concerns that are often raised, we cannot find differences in information responses between socio-economic groups.


Pierre Koning
Karen van der Wiel