Julie Moschion - Is public accountability a substitute for private knowledge? Evidence from Australia's school accountability reforms

Melbourne Institute Seminar

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Barbara Broadway

bhanel@unimelb.edu.au

Title: Is public accountability a substitute for private knowledge? Evidence from Australia's school accountability reforms

Abstract: An increase in the quality of accessible information about schools presumably affects the enrolment decisions of families. However, a baseline amount of information about school quality is possessed by demanders in any education market, even in the absence of public accountability. In this paper, we test the conjecture that an unambiguous and large increase in schools’ public accountability measurably improves the quality and/or ubiquity of actionable information about schools that is accessible to demanders of education. Seeing the launch in 2010 of Australia’s My School website (https://www.myschool.edu.au/) as a massive one-shot increase in schools’ public accountability, we examine the changes across the 2008-2015 window in average school characteristics that occur following the website’s launch. We focus particularly on the possibility of disproportionate re-distribution across schools of children from families who would be particularly prone to benefit from public accountability, due to being less likely to be part of the personal and professional networks in which school quality information is passed: students from disadvantaged and/or immigrant families. To explore whether such changes are truly driven by competition among schools based on the newly-public school-level information that My School contains, we examine whether the re-distribution of students that occurs post-My School is consistent with an increase in demand for schools of “quality” as implicitly defined on My School. We use a difference-in-difference method, treating the intensity of local competition facing each school as a continuous treatment variable, and the initialization of the My School website in 2010 as the focal policy event.

Presenter: Julie Moschion, University of Melbourne

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