Elite Schools and Academic Achievement
Damon Clark

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Florida

Primary Discipline

Educational Policy
This project will examine the impact of attending elite public schools (grammar schools) in the UK. Students are assigned to these schools on the basis of a test taken in primary school, and I will exploit this rule using a regression discontinuity approach, comparing those students just above and just below the elite school passing cutoff on a wide range of high school outcomes, including standardized test scores, the probability of enrolling in advanced courses and college entry patterns. I have already completed preliminary work using data from one school district and have recently received data from another. I will also compare my results to estimates based on nationally representative datasets that do not contain assignment test scores and cannot therefore implement this type of research design.The results can inform debates in those (predominantly European countries) that operate these kinds of schools. The results will also allow us to assess whether existing US choice results generalize to other settings. While many of the “choice” schools to which some US students now have access appear popular with parents, recent studies have found that the causal effect of attending these schools is at best small, at least on “basic” outcomes such as statewide test scores. My work will complement this research by considering a setting in which between-school differences in peer quality, teacher quality and so on are even larger, and by considering the impacts on a wider range of outcomes.
About Damon Clark

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