Effective schools do exist: low-income children’s academic performance in Chile

Andrea Repetto

The aim of this article is twofold. First, we show that despite students’ disadvantaged backgrounds and despite not having more financial resources than similar schools, there are schools in Chile that serve lowincome students and that obtain superior academic outcomes. Second, we present qualitative evidence to identify school and classroom processes that might explain these good results. Specifically, we analyse a network of Chilean private voucher schools called Sociedad de Instruccio´n Primaria (SIP). In the econometric analysis we use a number of propensity scorebased estimation methods to find that SIP students’ achievement is not due to observables or selection on measured variables. We also perform a number of interviews in SIP schools and other neighbouring schools. Our qualitative analysis suggests that having children’s learning as a central and permanent goal, an aim that is shared and that drives the community’s efforts, seems to best summarize what makes SIP schools special.