Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Poster Paper: Evolution of the K-12 Education Landscape

Saturday, November 14, 2015
Riverfront South/Central (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Robert Santillano, Mathematica Policy Research and Jon M. Valant, Tulane University
The U.S. education landscape has changed rapidly in recent decades.  For example, although the nation’s first charter school opened in the 1990s, a majority or near-majority of public school students now attend a charter school in many large U.S. cities, including New Orleans, Detroit, Washington, D.C., Cleveland, Kansas City, and Philadelphia. This paper has two primary aims.  First, we describe changes in the education landscape since the early 1990s, showing how local market shares have evolved for private, charter, and traditional public schools.  We focus especially on heterogeneity across locales and populations.  We show how the number of “choose-able” schools has changed in recent decades in urban, suburban, and rural areas, resulting in measurable changes in the degree of school-level competition and student-level choice present in different types of communities. Second, we analyze the causes of the observed changes in the educational landscape.  We test the effects of key economic, political, legal, demographic, and educational forces on changes in local private, charter, and traditional public school market share.  In doing so, we draw from rich, nationwide longitudinal data on an assortment of variables ranging from the partisan composition of state governments to individual schools’ performance on state tests. Together, these analyses examine the current landscape of K-12 schooling in the U.S., how it has evolved over time, and how it might continue to evolve in the years ahead.