Informing School-Choosing Families About Their Options: A Field Experiment From New Orleans

This randomized control trial by Jon Valant and Lindsay Weixler looks at how providing information to families impacts school choices in New Orleans. Almost all publicly funded schools in New Orleans are charters and families apply for seats by ranking their choices on a centralized enrollment application. Researchers provided families applying for seats in pre-K, Kindergarten, and 9th grade with either a list of high performing schools (as measured by student growth on standardized tests), a list of nearby schools, or general information that did not highlight particular schools. High school applicants who received performance information were more likely to include a high-performing school in their ranked choices and more likely to be assigned to one of those schools. There were no significant effects for pre-K or Kindergarten applicants, and no effects in any grade on the likelihood of listing one of the high performing schools as their first choice. Providing families information on nearby schools had little effect. Families with students with disabilities who received information on high-performing schools were particularly responsive to this information and were more likely to request one of these schools.

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