School Choice and Educational Opportunities: The Upper-Secondary Student-Assignment Process in Mexico City
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CitationOrtega Hesles, Maria Elena. 2015. School Choice and Educational Opportunities: The Upper-Secondary Student-Assignment Process in Mexico City. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
AbstractMany education systems around the world use a centralized admission process to assign students to schools. By definition, some applicants to oversubscribed schools are not offered admission to their most-preferred school. Thus, one naturally asks whether it makes a difference to applicants’ educational opportunities and outcomes which schools they apply to, are offered admission to, and eventually enroll in. Each year in Mexico City, about 300,000 teenagers apply for a seat at one of the nearly 650 public upper-secondary schools. In this centralized, merit-based admission process, applicants are assigned to a school based on entrance examination score and their ranked list of school choices, subject to school capacity constraints.
In this dissertation, I include two papers assessing data from the upper-secondary application cohorts in Mexico City from 2005 to 2009. In the first paper, I find evidence of socio-economic stratification across schools. I also find dissimilarities in the application behavior of individuals according to their socio-economic background, even for those with high achievement levels. Based on qualitative and quantitative data from a small sample of applicants, I suggest that in addition to differences in economic resources, asymmetries in access to information might help to explain disparities in the application behavior of individuals from different socio-economic backgrounds.
In the second paper, I capitalize on the natural experiment created at each oversubscribed public upper-secondary school in Mexico City by the imposition of exogenous admission cut-off scores. Using a regression-discontinuity design, I estimate that, on average, upper-secondary applicants who score just above the admission threshold for a more competitive school (i.e. a school with higher cut-off score and higher average examination scores) have lower probability of graduating on time and within 5 years than do applicants who scored just below the admission threshold. Given the high take-up rates of the offers of admission, I find that the effects for enrollment in a more competitive school are only slightly larger than they are in their analogous reduced-form estimates. In addition, I show that effects differ across the distribution of admission cut-off scores and for applicants with selected socio-demographic characteristics who scored just above the admission threshold.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:16461054