Leveling the Playing Field for High School Choice through Decision Supports: A Randomized Intervention Study

How can programs help low-income students make informed high school choices?

School choice can potentially serve as a strategy for improving the outcomes of low-income students. But for school choice to be effective, low-income students and their families need the resources, information, and supports to select high-performing high schools. However, even when students have information about school quality, they may not use it effectively and may not know how to improve their chances of getting into selective high schools. These issues are especially important in New York City, home to the nation’s largest high school choice program. Jennings and colleagues will study the impact of providing middle-school students with informational resources and supports to choose their high schools. The investigators hypothesize that information provided directly to students will be more effective than information delivered only to parents and guidance counselors. One hundred and twenty five public New York City middle schools will take part in one of three interventions or serve as a control group that does not receive any of the interventions. The qualitative portion of the project will focus on 144 eighth-grade students in 8 middle schools, and 48 of their parents in 4 of the schools.

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