The Evolution of Charter School Quality

The Evolution of Charter School Quality

Issue/Topic: Choice of schools--charter schools
Author(s): Baude, Patrick L.; Casey, Marcus; Hanushek, Eric A.; Rivkin, Steven G.
Organization(s): University of Illinois at Chicago (Baude, Casey, Rivkin); Stanford University (Hanushek)
Publication: National Bureau of Economic Research
Published On: 10/1/2014

Previous studies show conflicting evidence on the impact of charter schools on academic achievement compared to traditional public schools. Advocates point to the high quality of a number of oversubscribed schools while opponents highlight the mediocre average outcomes and large variability in performance among the broader set of charter schools. Two studies provide evidence consistent with effective marker forces pushing charter schools to improve.

1) To describe how the distribution of charter school quality in Texas, one of the largest charter school states, evolved between 2001 and 2011 2) To investigate the extent to which more fundamental factors--changes over time in student turnover, student selection into and out of charters, and the share of schools that adhere to a "no excuses" philosophy--contribute to the observed changes in school quality

The analysis provides support for the belief that market forces are generating improvements in the charter sector. During the period of the study:
The analysis also provides support for beliefs about the following factors thought to improve the charter school sector:
Policy Implications/Recommendations:
 The authors recommend a longer-term perspective on the impact of major education reforms, particularly those that rely on parental decisions and market forces, such as charter schools.

This study can be found at: 
Or at:

Research Design:
Quantitative analysis

Over 400 charter school campuses and their enrollees from 2001 to 2011

Year data is from:
2001 to 2011


Data Collection and Analysis:
Used data from the microdata constructed by the Texas Schools Project at the University of Texas at Dallas, which includes test scores, demographic characteristics, and information on school attendance and academic programs from a panel of students and schools. Analysis also considered mathematics and reading assessment scores. Constructed a unique data base that classifies charter schools based on whether they adhere to a "no excuses" philosophy.

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