Credible School Value-Added with Undersubscribed School Lotteries

Peer-reviewed Publication

Joshua Angrist, Peter Hull, Parag A. Pathak, and Christopher R. Walters

January 2024

The authors introduce two empirical strategies harnessing the randomness in school assignment mechanisms to measure school value-added. The first estimator controls for the probability of school assignment, treating take-up as ignorable. The authors test this assumption using randomness in assignments. The second approach uses assignments as instrumental variables (IVs) for low-dimensional models of value-added and forms empirical Bayes posteriors from these IV estimates. Both strategies solve the underidentification challenge arising from school undersubscription. Models controlling for assignment risk and lagged achievement in Denver and New York City yield reliable value-added estimates. Estimates from models with lower-quality achievement controls are improved by IV.