Compulsory Class Attendance Versus Autonomy

Working paper n°: 147

Author(s): Sofoklis Goulas, Silvia Griselda, Rigissa Megalokonomou

Year: 2021

Understanding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education requires a solid grasp of the impact of student autonomy on learning. In this paper, we estimate the effect of an increased autonomy policy for higher-performing students on short- and longer-term school outcomes. We exploit an institutional setting with high demand for autonomy in randomly formed classrooms. Identification comes from a natural experiment that allowed higher-achieving students to miss 30 percent more classes without penalty. Using a difference-in-difference-in-differences approach, we find that allowing higher-achieving students to skip class more often improves their performance in high-stakes subjects and increases their university admission outcomes. Higher-achieving students in more academically diverse classrooms exerted more autonomy when allowed to.

Sofoklis Goulas, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

Silvia Griselda, AXA Research Lab on Gender Equality, Bocconi University

Rigissa Megalokonomou, Department of Economics, University of Queensland

Language: English

The paper may be downloaded here.