Charter School Selection, Effects, and Competition: Evidence from North Carolina
Friday, November 3, 2017: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Stetson E (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Panel Organizers: Douglas Lauen, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Panel Chairs: Joshua Cowen, Michigan State University
Discussants: Elaine M. Allensworth, University of Chicago and Steven Glazerman, Mathematica Policy Research
This panel presents evidence on the development and effects of the large and growing charter school sector in North Carolina. The papers in the panel all exploit statewide administrative data on all charter and traditional public schools (TPS) in the state. Papers describe the changing demographics of the charter school population, which has become more white and less poor over time. The first paper addresses whether charter schools benefit from positive selection into treatment. Understanding whether charters serve students who are easier to educate is critical for producing credible treatment impacts and informing public policy. The second paper produces evidence about how charter school populations are segmented into two broad types: those who are always observed in a charter school and those who switch into and out of a charter school. Prior research is dominated by student fixed effects approaches that ignore students who are always observed in a charter in favor of those who switch into or out of charters. This choice is less desirable today given that about half of charter school students are always observed in a charter (i.e., they have never switched). This paper uses a technique to estimate differences in test score growth among those always observed in a TPS, those always observed in a charter, and those who switch. It also examines differential impacts by race and economic disadvantage. Moving beyond test score achievement in elementary and middle schools, the third paper broadens our understanding of charter school effects by examining impacts on career and college readiness, postsecondary enrollment and completion, criminal behavior, and voting. This paper adds to a small but growing literature on the longer term outcomes of charter high school enrollment and, more broadly, on the effects of schooling on civic participation. Lastly, the panel includes a paper that investigates the impact of charter school opening and closure on TPS enrollment and test score achievement, an important factor to consider if policymakers are trying to maximize statewide achievement. The literature on competitive effects suggests that charters may have effects not only on those who attend them, but on the students in nearby schools, with hypothesized positive effects if competition breeds higher TPS productivity.