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### Study Discovers Students’ Preparedness Significantly Influences Perception of ‘Good’ Schools

Perceptions of ‘good’ schools and the Influence of Student Preparation


The credibility of school quality ratings and their correlation with student preparation and demographics have been examined in a recent study conducted by MIT scholars. The study challenges the conventional wisdom surrounding school effectiveness and sheds light on the impact of student backgrounds on perceived school quality.

Key Findings

  • School quality ratings are heavily influenced by the demographic composition of the student body, often reflecting the students’ preparedness and family backgrounds more than the school’s actual contribution to learning outcomes.
  • Many schools with lower ratings outperform their perceived quality, indicating a discrepancy between ratings and actual performance.
  • The study, published in the American Economic Review: Insights, emphasizes the need for more accurate measures of school quality that account for student demographics and learning gains.


  • The research focused on the Denver and New York City school districts, utilizing changes in test scores and statistical adjustments for racial composition to assess the causal effects of school attendance on learning gains.
  • By analyzing student progress through randomized school assignments, the study aimed to isolate the impact of school attendance on academic performance.

Implications and Recommendations

  • The study highlights the limitations of simplistic school ratings, which often fail to capture the true value that schools provide to students, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • The researchers advocate for a more nuanced approach to measuring school quality, one that considers student preparation and improvement in academic outcomes.
  • Collaborations with educational institutions, such as the New York City Department of Education, aim to pilot new rating systems that provide a more comprehensive view of school performance.

In conclusion, the study underscores the importance of reevaluating current school rating systems to ensure a fair and accurate representation of school quality, taking into account the diverse backgrounds and needs of students.