Intra-school competition

Topics: High school, Education, Education economics Pages: 8 (4471 words) Published: September 29, 2014
Applied Economics, 2006, 38, 1641–1647

Intra-school competition and
student achievement
Melvin V. Borland, Roy M. Howsen* and Michelle W. Trawick
Department of Economics, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY 42101, USA

Within the economics of education literature, numerous studies have investigated the relationship between educational market competition and educational achievement. Educational market competition has been defined as either the availability of vouchers within a community or the number of schools or school districts within the relevant market structure. While these studies have shown that increases in inter-district competition result in increased student achievement, no studies, to our knowledge, have yet investigated the effect of intra-school competition on student achievement. Within this study, a measure of intra-school competition is developed and the findings indicate that increased intra-school competition leads to increased student achievement.

I. Introduction
Within the economics of education literature numerous articles exist, such as those by Borland and Howsen (1992), Epple and Romano (1998), Hoxby
(2000b), Marlow (2001), and Hanushek and Rivkin
(2003), concerned with the relationship between the
degree of educational market competition and
various educational input and output measures,
i.e., student achievement, school-student composition, school curriculum, school employment, and teacher quality. In these studies, educational market
competition is typically defined in terms of the
availability of vouchers within a community, or
the number of schools or school districts within the
relevant educational market area. The implication is
that increases in such availability and number provide
greater choice for parents of students and increased
competition across schools. While these studies have
shown that increases in inter-district competition
result in increased student achievement, no studies,
to our knowledge, have yet investigated the effect of
intra-school competition on student achievement.

In a general reference to school effects, i.e., teacher
quality, class size, and expenditure per pupil,
Hanushek (1986) indicates that the evidence on the
influence of such effects on student achievement is
ambiguous and controversial. Further, he suggests
that school effects are, for the most part, statistically
insignificant in terms of affecting student achievement or, at the least, confounding. Hanushek argues that schools do matter primarily in terms of teacher
behaviour – behaviour, however, that has defied
detailed description. Thus, the question exists of
whether or not it is possible to construct a set of
variables that accounts for differences in teacher
behaviour. In a later study, Hanushek et al. (2002)
find that teacher behaviour resulting from teacher
experience is an important determinant of student
achievement. He finds that fourth and fifth grade
students who have teachers with two years of
experience or less do not perform as well academically as students who have teachers with more than two years of experience.
The study reported in this paper adds to the body
of knowledge concerned with the relationship

*Corresponding author. E-mail:
Applied Economics ISSN 0003–6846 print/ISSN 1466–4283 online ß 2006 Taylor & Francis
DOI: 10.1080/00036840500426991


between teacher behaviour and student achievement
by including a measure of the degree of intra-school
teacher competition as an attribute of teacher
behaviour. To the extent that teacher behaviour
matters in student achievement, the inclusion of this
measure is expected to provide additional explanation
of variations in student achievement.

II. Intra-school Competition
If Hanushek is correct in arguing that teacher
behaviour matters, then measures of variables to
capture such behaviour would assist...

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