Panel Paper: School Accountability, Standards and Family Sorting

Friday, November 9, 2012 : 8:00 AM
International C (Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

David Figlio, Northwestern University, Lauren Linzmeier, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Jonas Vlachos, Stockholm University

This paper uses micro-level data from the decennial census and the American Community Survey to identify the effects of school accountability on public-private school choice and residential location. Following states from 1990 through 2009, we take advantage of state-level differences in the timing of school accountability plans as well as the level of standards expected by the accountability system. We find evidence that families are more likely to send children to private schools in states that introduce accountability systems with either very low or very high standards relative to those that introduce accountability systems with moderate standards levels. Newcomers to a metropolitan area are highly responsive to accountability standards when selecting residential locations: In states with high accountability standards, newcomers are more likely to reside in moderate-income rather than high-income school districts, and they purchase larger houses in those less elite school districts.