Smart Matching Platforms and Heterogeneous Beliefs in Centralized School Choice

This descriptive and experimental study by Felipe Arteaga, Adam J. Kapor, Christopher A. Neilson, and Seth D. Zimmerman investigates how parents interact with centralized school choice assignment systems and whether live feedback during the school selection process can improve where students end up. They start by analyzing how parents gain information about available schools and choose what schools to list on their application using a survey of parents in Chile. Parents claim to have limited information about schools without doing extensive research and tend to overestimate the likelihood that their child will get into one of the schools on their list. Part of the issue stems from parents listing too few schools or only listing schools that are in high demand. To address this, the researchers designed a “smart matching platform” that gives parents real-time feedback on the probability of student placement in desired schools. In Chile, they tested this intervention and found that a warning for risk of non-placement in schools induced parents to add more schools to their list and increased the quality of the school the student enrolled in. Results are similar for a test of the intervention in New Haven.

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