Many parents want their children to go to so-called “elite” schools. Why? They believe those schools have some magic formula when it comes to educating students. But according to MIT researcher Josh Angrist, those parents are wrong. Those schools’ graduates don’t score highly because the schools are great. No, the schools appear great simply because they choose students who are going to do well no matter were they go to school. There is a bizarre tendency among Americans to see a cause-and-effect relationship between fancy schools and superior education. That’s why parents assume that a school with fancy buildings and expensive labs and bright reputations can turn their children into brilliant scholars. That’s why people look at high-income suburbs — with expensive schools paid for by higher taxes — and assume the high test scores from there are because of “better schools.” But they’re not. If you take those kids from high-income homes and send them to a run-down urban school and take those kids from poor neighborhoods and put them into the fancy school buildings, the schools’ results would reverse. Most of the difference between schools is because of which homes the students come from, not because of fancy buildings and elite reputations.
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