Market Signals: Using the DC School Choice Lottery to Model Consumer Demand and Response to Policy Changes
Friday, November 13, 2015
Tuttle North (Hyatt Regency Miami)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Washington, DC has an unusually active education marketplace, with a charter sector accounting for nearly half of public school enrollment and a traditional sector that allows out-of-boundary transfers through a lottery system. In 2014, the city instituted a common lottery for both charters and DC Public Schools (DCPS) that for the first time gave planners a central repository of parent application information. We use applicants' rank-ordered school preferences and a rich compilation of publicly available data on individual schools and neighborhoods to study consumer demand for school attributes. We first describe the availability and demand for spaces across schools under DC's school choice process. A discrete choice model (exploded logit) is then used to quantify parents' relative valuations of school attributes related to academics--such as achievement levels, school value added, and teacher effectiveness--and less academic attributes of schools, including student body demographics, the incidence of crime near a school, and commuting distances calculated from home and school address data. The resulting choice parameters allow us to simulate changes in school compositions over time and how these compositional drifts would respond to increased capacity for school choice and changing choice sets. These behavioral parameters can be used to model the enrollment dynamics that would result from any of a wide variety of policy alternatives.
The research presented in this paper will build on a presentation the authors presented at APPAM in 2014, focusing on aggregate demand. The new paper will use individual-level data from the 2014 lottery and, if available, the 2015 lottery as well.