Working to Improve School Choice in Practice
This project studies how school assignment mechanisms that induce strategic applications work in practice in the context of applicants having imperfect information about assignment probabilities. The project is a collaboration between researchers at Princeton and the University of Chicago, and the New Haven Public Schools (NHPS).
The goals of the project are:
Gain insight into the practical implementation of school choice by taking the theory of market design to data.
Help the NHPS and other districts evaluate the efficacy of existing approaches to improving outreach and understanding of choice.
The questions that this project attempts to answer include:
How do the size and equity of gains from school choice depend on families' ability to gather and use information on the way that school choice works?
How does changing the school choice assignment mechanism affect the distribution of satisfaction and academic achievement across households?
We address these questions by:
Collaborating with the NHPS to conduct several waves of household surveys that measure the preferences, sophistication and beliefs of potential, and actual school choice participants.
Linking survey results to administrative records of school choice and academic outcomes to estimate a model of school choice participation.
We then use this model to evaluate the what-if scenarios of different policies, like changing the assignment mechanism or giving households more and/or better information.
The study is part of an ongoing research partnership NHPS. At present, we are working with the district to design and evaluate possible improvements to the school choice mechanism, and, in general, to help the district expand the benefits of school choice for all district households.