Addressing Inequalities in High School Track Choice

Last registered on January 23, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Addressing Inequalities in High School Track Choice
Initial registration date
January 12, 2023

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
January 23, 2023, 6:02 AM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.


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Primary Investigator

Harvard Kennedy School

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Harvard University
PI Affiliation
Bocconi University

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
In most OECD countries characterized by tracking, high-school choice is highly segregated by socioeconomic status (SES). Using rich administrative data on the population of Italian students, we document stark SES gaps in high-school track choice that mirrors track recommendations by teachers. Students from low SES are less likely to be recommended (and choose) top-tier high school tracks compared to students from high SES with the same standardized test scores and grades, with potentially negative implications for upward mobility of disadvantaged students. Why are low SES students recommended to lower tracks compared to students from high SES with similar performance? If teachers became aware of the bias in their recommendations, would they change their behavior?
The intent of this research is twofold. First, we aim at understanding the determinants of SES gaps in teachers' track recommendations through a combination of surveys and experiments with teachers, investigating the role of (i) biased beliefs about their own past recommendations, (ii) biased beliefs about future gaps in academic performance and returns to different tracks by students' SES. Second, we evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention that provides information to teachers on the bias in their past recommendations. Specifically, teachers in control schools receive only general information about the academic performance in high school of their past students, while teachers in the treatment group receive additional information about the gap in their track recommendations by students' SES. We will evaluate the impact of this intervention on teachers' track recommendations and on students' choices.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Carlana, Michela, Francesca Miserocchi and Eleonora Patacchini. 2023. "Addressing Inequalities in High School Track Choice." AEA RCT Registry. January 23.
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Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
The outcomes will include:
(1) administrative outcomes on students' high school track choice and teachers' track recommendations
(2) data collected from a teachers' questionnaire that will be implemented in January-February 2023, including teachers' beliefs about their own track recommendations, teachers' beliefs on students' future performance in high school and return to schooling by SES, self-reported track recommendations for their students, and track recommendations for hypothetical students' profiles.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Information intervention with teachers and lab-in-the-field experiment in teachers' survey.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer.
Randomization Unit
The unit of randomization is the school.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
85 schools
Sample size: planned number of observations
Around 4,000 pupils, 600 teachers.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Around 2,000 students and 300 teachers in each of the treatment arms
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Considering ICC of 0.07, 85 schools, 40 students per school, the MDE is 0.185 SD or 0.085 in terms of percentage points change assuming 20% of students are recommended toward a top-tier track. In case of promising results, we plan to expand the scale of the project during the school year 2024-25.

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number