23 SES 06 C, Accountability in Schools
The Chilean education system has a well-known history of neoliberal school choice policies (Seppänen et al 2015). Schools have had the freedom to implement independent admissions criteria to craft a student body reflecting each school’s values and meet accountability requirements. Restrictive admissions policies contribute to segregation, as selective schools only accept higher SES students, leaving lower SES students in schools of perceived lower quality with open admissions criteria (Bellei 2009, Contreras et al 2011, Carrasco et al 2017). Chile is phasing in radical changes to student admission processes, with the intention of strengthening school choice policies, by empowering parents as decision makers and with the hope of improved inclusion across schools. Chile is adopting a centralized admission system (NSAE), where schools must accept any applicant, and lottery assignment is used for oversubscription, inspired by student assignment plans implemented in other school systems (such as New York City, Boston, and Buenos Aires). Chile’s switch from completely decentralized to a highly centralized system makes these reforms particularly salient for researchers interested in the potential impact of centralized admission systems on equity in access, on school integration, and in the link between school choice policies and school segregation.
The Chilean experience can serve as an international case study to inform countries with high levels of school choice, such as Sweden or England (West et al 2006, 2009, 2011). The wide range of student assignment policies practiced across Europe in conjunction with the accelerating pattern of market-based reforms across western countries (GERM), make this increasingly relevant. Policymakers undergoing this process need to better understand how distinct policies interact under different market mechanisms.
We examine the changing enrollment patterns of students in the five regions that first implemented the NSAE to see who benefits and to what extent access and integration for students from different ethnicities or levels of SES is improved. We aim to increase understanding of the workings of school choice and inequality in market-based educational systems.
We draw from theories of educational opportunity and of school choice as a mechanism for segregation. School choice policies have been criticized, as without regulation schools participate in “cream skimming” or “cropping” to cater to easier to educate students or higher social classes (Lacireno-Paquet, Holyoke, Moser, & Henig, 2002). Institutional constraints, such as restrictive admissions policies, present barriers to equitable participation in school choice, preventing students from certain social classes from participating and therefore leading to further institutionalized inequality (Lubienski, Gulosino, & Weitzel, 2009). Eliminating admissions barriers allows for greater equity in participation in school choice, and thus greater levels of integration and educational opportunity. However, barriers remain as the choice process is fraught with disparities across social classes in access to capital. Choice sets are shaped by one’s social, cultural, and financial capital. Bourdieu argues that practice (social action) is shaped by position, possibilities, and habitus, which articulates constraints of agency in structure (Bourdieu, 1990a, 1990b; Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1992). Differences in access to capital across social classes contributes to continued segregation within a particular system. Our conceptual framework argues that decreasing barriers will lead to greater educational opportunity, with limited impact on integration due to continued disparities in capital.
- Under the NSAE, to what extent are students from distinct subgroups assigned to similar schools?
- To what extent do students from distinct subgroups apply to similar schools as their highest choice?
- To what extent does the NSAE equalize opportunity for students regarding placement in their preferred school?
- To what extent are differences in characteristics of the school attended by student subgroup smaller than under the previous system?
This paper uses secondary data analysis of rich administrative records provided by the Ministry of Education of Chile from the 2016- 2018 school years from the five regions of the country that participated in the initial phases of implementation. The admission system data provides, for each student who participated in the NSAE, the ranked preference for the schools they include in their enrollment proposal, their priority status for each school, the school they are assigned to, basic student characteristics, and a unique identifier that link to additional administrative datasets with student national standardized exam scores and rich survey data. The school and grade level data provides the basic school characteristics as well as a unique identifier that links to additional datasets including previous national standardized exam scoress (SIMCE) and characteristics of students enrolled. Research questions a), b), and c) are examined through analysis of differences in means and proportions for subgroups of students based on their SES level and ethnicity. Logistic and OLS regressions are also conducted to examine differences across subgroups in the odds of being assigned one’s first choice school, of selecting a school with certain characteristics as one’s first choice, and of being assigned a school with certain characteristics all while controlling for other student and school characteristics. Question d), attempting to explore the effectiveness of the new vs the previous system, also utilizes the above descriptive statistics. We then conduct a differences-in-differences analysis that benefits from the inclusion of a comparison group to control for other potential changes in the region outside the NSAE that could be influencing student enrollment decisions and placement. In the first year the NSAE was only utilized for students entering PK, K, 1st, 7th, and 9th grades. Students transitioning into these grades in 2017 are considered the treatment eligible students, while students transitioning into 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 8th, and 10th grades in 2017 are a reasonable comparison group. Access and segregation outcomes are measured in multiple ways. Logistic regressions are utilized for binary outcomes, while OLS regressions are utilized for continuous outcomes. Analyses are conducted for the entire group, broken out by primary and secondary school, and broken out by subgroups of students. Outcomes of interest include measures for: SES integration, indigenous integration, extreme isolation, attendance at high performing school, and neighborhood diversity representation.
Inequalities in school assignment Disparities remain under the NSAE in terms of the characteristics of the school attended. D Schools requiring copayment are attended at higher rates by students with a higher family income, SES, and parent education level. A students’ SES is reflected in the SES level of the school they are assigned. Self-selection and segregation First choice schools of students with more educated parents have higher test scores, fewer priority students, and a higher SES rating. Priority and indigenous students have 60% and 30% respectively lower odds of choosing a school with high test scores than non-priority or non-indigenous students. Disparities in assignment to preferred schools . Students with higher educated and wealthier parents have lower odds of being assigned their first-choice school. Priority and indigenous students have 41% and 35% greater odds of being assigned their first-choice school. While students enroll in schools reflecting their SES, this is due to factors external to the assignment system. If the new system privileges anyone, it appears to privilege lower SES students regarding assignment at one’s top-choice school. Is segregation and inequality of opportunity decreasing? We expect to find slight increases in integration levels for students under the NSAE, particularly for students residing in areas with few remaining barriers and high market availability. However, we expect the change to be minor due to continued constraints on choice set formation for isolated students and differences in preferences. Conclusions: The NSAE may begin to equalize access and improve integration in what was a highly segregated and privatized system. Other education systems (including European systems) wishing to maintain a robust school choice system that decreases isolation, might consider similar reforms.
Bellei, C. (2009). “The Private-Public School Controversy: The Case of Chile”. School Choice International, Paul Peterson y Rajashri Chakrabarti (editors) MIT Press, pp. 165-192. Lacireno-paquet, N., Holyoke, T. T., Moser, M., & Henig, J. R. (2002). Creaming versus cropping: Charter school enrollment practices in response to market incentives. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 24(2), 145–158. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3594141 Lubienski, C., Gulosino, C., & Weitzel, P. (2009). School choice and competitive incentives: Mapping the distribution of educational opportunities across local education markets. American Journal of Education, 115(4), 601–647. http://doi.org/10.1086/599778 Contreras, D., Sepúlveda, P. y Bustos, S. (2011). “When Schools are the ones that choose: The Effects of Screening in Chile”, Social Science Quarterly, Vol 91, Nº 5. Carrasco, A., Gutiérrez, G. & Flores, C. (2017). “Failed regulations and school composition: selective admission practices in Chilean primary schools”, Journal of Education Policy. Vol 32, issue 5. Seppänen, P., Carrasco, A., Rinne, R. & Simola, H. (eds) (2015) Contrasting Dynamics in Education Politics of Extremes: school choice in Chile and Finland. SENSE Publishers. Kosunen, S. & Carrasco, A. (2016) “Parental preferences in school choice: comparing reputational hierarchies of schools in Chile and Finland”, Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 46(2), 172-193.DOI: 10.1080/03057925.2013.861700 (ISI) Kosunen, S., Carrasco, A. & Tironi, T. (2015). ‘Hot’ and 'cold' knowledge in parental choice of schools in Chile and Finland, chapter 6. In: Seppänen, P., Carrasco, A., Rinne, R. & Simola, H. (eds) (2015) Contrasting Dynamics in Education Politics of Extremes: school choice in Chile and Finland. SENSE Publishers. West, A, & Currie, P 2008, “School Diversity and Social Justice: Policy and Politics”, Educational Studies, 34, 3, pp. 241-250. West, A, & Hind, A 2006, “Selectivity, Admissions and Intakes to Comprehensive Schools in London, England”, Educational Studies, 32, 2, pp. 145-155 West, A, Barham, E, & Hind, A 2011, “Secondary School Admissions in England 2001 to 2008: Changing Legislation, Policy and Practice”, Oxford Review Of Education, 37, 1, pp. 1-20 West, A, Ingram, D, & Hind, A 2006, '"Skimming the Cream"? Admissions to Charter Schools in the United States and to Autonomous Schools in England', Educational Policy, 20, 4, pp. 615-639. West, A, Pennell, H, & Hind, A 2009, “Quasi-Regulation and Principal-Agent Relationships: Secondary School Admissions in London, England”, Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 37, 6, pp. 784-805
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