The Effect of Charter Schools on Students in Traditional Public Schools: A Review of the Evidence

ednext-nov2016-blog-gill-charter-indirect-effectsCompared to most education interventions, charter schools have unusually good research evidence on impacts on participating students. Researchers have been able to take advantage of natural experiments that are created by the admissions lotteries of oversubscribed charter schools. The lottery losers represent an ideal comparison group, because they are similar to the winners in all respects except the luck of the admissions draw. Studies relying on charter-school lotteries have not found uniformly positive effects, but they have identified particular charter-school operators (such as KIPP) and particular cities (such as Boston) where effects on charter students are unambiguously favorable.
 
For the policy debate, however, lottery-based studies of the impacts of charter schools on their students tell only half the story. One of the central arguments about charter schools (and other forms of school choice) is about indirect effects on students who remain in district-operated public schools. Indeed, the opponents of next month’s Massachusetts ballot initiative that would raise the current cap on the state’s charter schools have made clear that they are most worried about indirect effects that could result from the transfer of funds from district schools. Similarly, recent statements opposing the expansion of charter schools from the NAACP and the Movement for Black Lives have prominently cited concerns about charter schools’ indirect effects.
 
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2016-11-09T08:49:52+00:00

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