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The Effect of Contracting Out Low Performing Schools on Student Performance


  • Whitney Ruble

    (Department of Economics, Tulane University)


Proponents of charter schools and portfolio management models argue that contracting out entire schools to management organizations can improve student performance and decrease costs by giving schools autonomy in exchange for accountability. Little evidence exists, however, on whether contracting is an effective policy in education. In New Orleans, most of the public schools have been contracted out to nonprofit management organizations over the past ten years (referred to as district to charter or D2C). Several of those contracts have been terminated and schools are then contracted out to new management organizations (charter to charter or C2C). This study uses difference-in-differences to analyze the effect that D2Cs and C2Cs have on students. The results indicate that student test scores increase by the second year after both D2Cs and C2Cs. The scores increase even sooner, after only one year for C2Cs. However, if failing schools are closed instead of being contracted out, students do not experience any change in test scores.

Suggested Citation

  • Whitney Ruble, 2015. "The Effect of Contracting Out Low Performing Schools on Student Performance," Working Papers 1521, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tul:wpaper:1521

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Steven W. Hemelt & Brian A. Jacob, 2020. "How Does an Accountability Program that Targets Achievement Gaps Affect Student Performance?," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 15(1), pages 45-74, Winter.

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    More about this item


    low-performing schools; school quality; school closures;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H40 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - General
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality

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