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School Responsiveness to Quality Rankings: An Empirical Analysis of Secondary Education in the Netherlands


This paper assesses the response of Dutch secondary schools to the publication of relative quality ratings in a national newspaper (Trouw). Our research design exploits the discontinuities in the ranking formula that was used to generate five consecutive levels for the overall quality of schools.We find previous Trouw quality scores to have an offsetting effect on school quality performance, i.e. both average grades and the number of diplomas go up after receiving a negative score. These effects are confined to the lower support of the performance distribution.

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Correspondence to Pierre Koning.

Additional information

We thank the editor, two anonymous referees, Lex Borghans, Elbert Dijkgraaf, Jaap Dronkers, Michael Lindahl, Marc van der Steeg, Sietzke Waslander and Dinand Webbink for useful comments to earlier versions of the paper. The Ministry of Economic Affairs is gratefully acknowledged for sponsoring the research. We also would like to thank seminar participants at the IFAU seminar in Uppsala on November 10, 2010; the Labour/Health seminar at Tilburg University on February 8, 2011; and the Day for Belgian Labour Economists in Ghent on April 29, 2011, for useful comments.

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Koning, P., van der Wiel, K. School Responsiveness to Quality Rankings: An Empirical Analysis of Secondary Education in the Netherlands. De Economist 160, 339–355 (2012).

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  • School quality
  • School accountability
  • Regression discontinuity designs

JEL Classification

  • H75
  • I20
  • D83