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Explaining Charter School Effectiveness

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  • Joshua D. Angrist
  • Parag A. Pathak
  • Christopher R. Walters

Abstract

Estimates using admissions lotteries suggest that urban charter schools boost student achievement, while charter schools in other settings do not. We explore student-level and school-level explanations for these differences using a large sample of Massachusetts charter schools. Our results show that urban charter schools boost achievement well beyond ambient non-charter levels (that is, the average achievement level for urban non-charter students), and beyond non-urban achievement in math. Student demographics explain some of these gains since urban charters are most effective for non-whites and low-baseline achievers. At the same time, non-urban charter schools are uniformly ineffective. Our estimates also reveal important school-level heterogeneity in the urban charter sample. A non-lottery analysis suggests that urban schools with binding, well-documented admissions lotteries generate larger score gains than under-subscribed urban charter schools with poor lottery records. We link the magnitude of charter impacts to distinctive pedagogical features of urban charters such as the length of the school day and school philosophy. The relative effectiveness of urban lottery-sample charters is accounted for by over-subscribed urban schools' embrace of the No Excuses approach to education.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17332.

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Date of creation: Aug 2011
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Publication status: published as Joshua D. Angrist & Parag A. Pathak & Christopher R. Walters, 2013. "Explaining Charter School Effectiveness," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(4), pages 1-27, October.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17332

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References

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  1. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Joshua Angrist & Susan Dynarski & Thomas J. Kane & Parag Pathak, 2009. "Accountability and Flexibility in Public Schools: Evidence from Boston's Charters and Pilots," NBER Working Papers 15549, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Abadie, Alberto, 2003. "Semiparametric instrumental variable estimation of treatment response models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 113(2), pages 231-263, April.
  3. Scott A. Imberman, 2011. "Achievement and Behavior in Charter Schools: Drawing a More Complete Picture," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 416-435, May.
  4. Joshua D. Angrist & Parag A. Pathak & Christopher R. Walters, 2013. "Explaining Charter School Effectiveness," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(4), pages 1-27, October.
  5. Vilsa E. Curto & Roland G. Fryer, Jr., 2011. "Estimating the Returns to Urban Boarding Schools: Evidence from SEED," NBER Working Papers 16746, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Angrist, Joshua & Dynarski, Susan & Kane, Thomas J. & Pathak, Parag A. & Walters, Christopher R., 2011. "Who Benefits from KIPP?," IZA Discussion Papers 5690, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Joshua D. Angrist & Susan M. Dynarski & Thomas J. Kane & Parag A. Pathak & Christopher R. Walters, 2010. "Inputs and Impacts in Charter Schools: KIPP Lynn," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 239-43, May.
  8. Joseph G. Altonji & Todd E. Elder & Christopher R. Taber, 2000. "Selection on Observed and Unobserved Variables: Assessing the Effectiveness of Catholic Schools," NBER Working Papers 7831, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Will Dobbie & Roland G. Fryer, Jr, 2011. "Getting Beneath the Veil of Effective Schools: Evidence from New York City," NBER Working Papers 17632, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Jesse M. Rothstein, 2006. "Good Principals or Good Peers? Parental Valuation of School Characteristics, Tiebout Equilibrium, and the Incentive Effects of Competition among Jurisdictions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1333-1350, September.
  11. Roland G. Fryer, Jr, 2011. "Injecting Successful Charter School Strategies into Traditional Public Schools: A Field Experiment in Houston," NBER Working Papers 17494, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Sorting through heterogeneity of impact to enhance policy learning
    by Jed Friedman in Development Impact on 2012-11-21 13:18:30
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Cited by:
  1. Will Dobbie & Roland G. Fryer, Jr, 2011. "Getting Beneath the Veil of Effective Schools: Evidence from New York City," NBER Working Papers 17632, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Joshua Goodman, 1969. "Flaking Out: Student Absences and Snow Days as Disruptions of Instructional Time," Working Paper 141961, Harvard University OpenScholar.
  3. Kalena Cortes & Joshua Goodman & Takako Nomi, 2014. "Intensive Math Instruction and Educational Attainment: Long-Run Impacts of Double-Dose Algebra," NBER Working Papers 20211, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Felipe Barrera-Osorio & Darío Maldonado & Catherine Rodríguez, 2012. "Calidad de la Educación Básica y Media en Colombia: Diagnóstico y Propuestas," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 010321, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
  5. Victor Lavy & Edith Sand, 2012. "The Friends Factor: How Students’ Social Networks Affect Their Academic Achievement and Well-Being?," NBER Working Papers 18430, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Angrist, Joshua & Pathak, Parag A. & Walters, Christopher R., 2012. "Explaining Charter School Effectiveness," IZA Discussion Papers 6525, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Kevin Booker & Brian Gill & Tim Sass & Ron Zimmer, 2014. "Charter High Schools' Effects on Long-Term Attainment and Earnings," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 8005, Mathematica Policy Research.
  8. Stephen B. Billings & David J. Deming & Jonah E. Rockoff, 2012. "School Segregation, Educational Attainment and Crime: Evidence from the end of busing in Charlotte-Mecklenburg," NBER Working Papers 18487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Julie Berry Cullen & Steven D. Levitt & Erin Robertson & Sally Sadoff, 2013. "What Can Be Done to Improve Struggling High Schools?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 27(2), pages 133-52, Spring.
  10. repec:ese:iserwp:2014-05 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Brian Gill & Joshua Furgeson & Hanley S. Chiang & Bing-Ru Teh & Joshua Haimson & Natalya Verbitsky-Savitz, 2013. "Replicating Experimental Impact Estimates with Nonexperimental Methods in the Context of Control Crossover," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 7927, Mathematica Policy Research.
  12. Hunt Allcott, 2012. "Site Selection Bias in Program Evaluation," NBER Working Papers 18373, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. David J. Deming & Sarah Cohodes & Jennifer Jennings & Christopher Jencks, 2013. "School Accountability, Postsecondary Attainment and Earnings," NBER Working Papers 19444, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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