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The Adverse Effects of Parents’ School Selection Errors on Academic Achievement: Evidence from the B

Lai, Fang, Elisabeth Sadoulet, and Alain de Janvry. 2009. “The adverse effects of parents' school selection errors on academic achievement: Evidence from the Beijing open enrollment program” Economics of Education Review 28(4): 485-496.


One major concern with public school open enrollment programs is the potential for parents’ school selection errors to adversely affect their children’s academic achievement. In thisstudy of the Beijing middle school open enrollment program, we estimate the degree to which children’s school outcomes were negatively affected by the poor choices their parents made during the school selection process. We do this by examining parents’ responses to a survey on school choices combined with actual school applications, school admission records, and High School Entrance Examination test scores for 4,717 students entering middle schools in Beijing via randomized lotteries. We find that the children of parents who made judgment errors in school selection were admitted to lower quality schools and achieved lower testscores on the High School Entrance Examination. Parents who had less education, whose children performed at lower levels in primary school, and who were less attentive to teachers’ opinions about schools were more prone to make these errors. Providing assistance to parents, especially those less prepared to make informed choices about school selection, is consequently important for supporting more efficient and equitable open enrollment programs.

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