Working Paper: The Gender Gap in Charter School Enrollment

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Working Paper: Why Are There More Girls than Boys in Charter Schools?

With "The Gender Gap in Charter School Enrollment," Sean P. Corcoran and Jennifer L. Jennings fill this void. In examining 11 years of enrollment data for schools across the United States, Corcoran and Jennings find that charter schools enroll more girls than boys, that this divide has widened over time, and that the difference is more pronounced, in particular, at the secondary level.

By: Sean P. Corcoran and Jennifer L. Jennings
Working Paper No. 223

Scholars have paid significant attention to the academic achievement as well as special needs of students who apply to charter schools, enroll, and stay. Scholars have likewise delved into the academic gains of students who stay and leave. Yet the topic of application, enrollment, and retention by gender has gone unexplored.

With "The Gender Gap in Charter School Enrollment," Sean P. Corcoran and Jennifer L. Jennings fill this void. In examining 11 years of enrollment data for schools across the United States, Corcoran and Jennings find that charter schools enroll more girls than boys, that this divide has widened over time, and that the difference is more pronounced, in particular, at the secondary level.

The findings of Corcoran and Jennings raise fundamental questions about the culture and curricula of charter schools and challenge scholars and policymakers to think more broadly about the nature and mission of schooling. Does the "no excuses" philosophy of many charter schools suit girls more than boys? If so, should this philosophy be modified? Does the emphasis on academic rigor and test results at many charter schools work better for girls than boys? If so, should charter school leaders bring more balance to their curricula by including more arts, crafts, and physical education? Do parents steer daughters more than sons to charter schools because of concerns about safety at conventional public schools? If so, what can be done to nullify such worries?

With careful examination of data and thorough documentation, Corcoran and Jennings pave the way to these questions and more.

View paper

Published Monday, Mar. 2, 2015

Working Paper: Why Are There More Girls than Boys in Charter Schools?

By: Sean P. Corcoran and Jennifer L. Jennings
Working Paper No. 223

Scholars have paid significant attention to the academic achievement as well as special needs of students who apply to charter schools, enroll, and stay. Scholars have likewise delved into the academic gains of students who stay and leave. Yet the topic of application, enrollment, and retention by gender has gone unexplored.

With "The Gender Gap in Charter School Enrollment," Sean P. Corcoran and Jennifer L. Jennings fill this void. In examining 11 years of enrollment data for schools across the United States, Corcoran and Jennings find that charter schools enroll more girls than boys, that this divide has widened over time, and that the difference is more pronounced, in particular, at the secondary level.

The findings of Corcoran and Jennings raise fundamental questions about the culture and curricula of charter schools and challenge scholars and policymakers to think more broadly about the nature and mission of schooling. Does the "no excuses" philosophy of many charter schools suit girls more than boys? If so, should this philosophy be modified? Does the emphasis on academic rigor and test results at many charter schools work better for girls than boys? If so, should charter school leaders bring more balance to their curricula by including more arts, crafts, and physical education? Do parents steer daughters more than sons to charter schools because of concerns about safety at conventional public schools? If so, what can be done to nullify such worries?

With careful examination of data and thorough documentation, Corcoran and Jennings pave the way to these questions and more.

View paper

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