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Our working papers promote dialogue about privatization in education. The papers are diverse in topic, including research reviews and original research, and are grounded in a range of disciplinary and methodological approaches. The views presented in the papers are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Center.
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School Choice in England, WP-232, 2016
In “England Confronts the Limits of School Autonomy,” Helen F. Ladd and Edward B. Fiske provide a detailed analysis of the evolution of school choice in England and address the obstacles in the way of full implementation of Conservative Party ambitions as well as its likely drawbacks. The result is a rich depiction of dramatic change and a cautionary statement about the impact of full school independence on community input and student interests.
Philanthropy, Geography, and Charter Schools, WP-231, 2016
How foundations coalesce and collaborate in particular parts of the country provides telling detail about education policy and its necessary conditions. In "Converging on Choice: The Inter-State Flow of Foundation Dollars to Charter School Organizations," Joseph J. Ferrare and Renee Setari examine this dynamic and in the process reveal unmistakable patterns of coordination and influence.
Privatization, Choice, and Online Marketing, WP-230, 2016
In “Perceptions of Prestige: A Comparative Analysis of School Online Media Marketing,” Sarah Butler Jessen and Catherine DiMartino provide a detailed assessment of the marketing tools increasingly employed by charter management organizations (CMOs) to win over philanthropists and politicians as well as parents.
Web Appendix to The Effect of Charter Competition on Unionized District Revenues and Resource Allocation, WP-229, 2016
The Effect of Charter Competition on Unionized District Revenues and Resource Allocation, WP-229, 2016
In “The Effect of Charter Competition on Unionized District Revenues and Resource Allocation,” Jason B. Cook finds that charter competition has driven down local funding by depressing valuations of residential property and has led school districts to redirect revenue from instructional expenditures (in particular, teacher salaries) to facility improvements.
Proprietary Law Schools and the Marketization of Access to Justice, WP-228, 2016
For-profit universities like Corinthian, DeVry, Education Management, Strayer, and the University of Phoenix were long Wall Street darlings until revelations several years ago of high student dropout and loan default rates led attorneys general in states across the country to launch fraud investigations. The U.S. Department of Education followed up in 2015 with “gainful employment” requirements, stipulating that the average annual loan payment not exceed 20 percent of discretionary income earned by graduates. Corinthian went bankrupt while DeVry, Education Management, Strayer, the University of Phoenix, and many more for-profit universities saw their revenues shrink and their valuations plummet. For-profit law schools have likewise incurred scrutiny but to a far less degree, as Riaz Tejani explains in this paper.
Vouchers Come to Louisiana, WP-227, 2015
Vouchers have recently gained significant ground with the introduction of statewide programs in Indiana in 2011, Louisiana in 2012, and Nevada in 2015. In this paper, Amber Peterson provides a concise, balanced assessment of the state’s voucher program. Peterson explains the evolution of the program, eligibility requirements for both students and schools, distribution of participating private schools throughout the state, outreach efforts by the state, barriers to enrollment, and problems with school assessment.
The Impact of "No Excuses" Charter Schools on Academic Achievement, WP-226, 2015
With steep behavioral and academic expectations, "No Excuses" charter schools have been praised for raising standards and faulted for excluding students who cannot meet them. What has yet to be determined on a broad basis is their impact on academic achievement. In this paper, Albert Cheng, Collin Hitt, Brian Kisida, and Jonathan N. Mills employ a meta-analysis of experimental evidence and find the gains in math and English language arts for students in these schools to be substantial.
Theory versus Reality in Charter Schools in Colombia, WP-225, 2015
In 1999, Colombia joined many other countries in amplifying educational options by introducing charter schools. Called Concession Schools (Colegios en Concesión), they have been confined to the capital city, Bogotá, they grew in number by 2003 to 25 and remained at that count through 2014. In this paper, D. Brent Edwards and Hilary Hartley examine the process of authorization, evaluation, and enrollment to determine the degree of accountability and choice.
Tiptoeing Around Private Schools in the Global Partnership for Education, WP-224, 2015
Private K-12 education in the developing world has mushroomed over the past decade and in the process generated significant controversy over the role of for-profit school operators and public-private partnerships. In “Tiptoeing Around Private Schools in the Global Partnership for Education,” Francine Menashy summarizes the current debate and assesses the difficulty opposing groups have had in finding common ground.
The Gender Gap in Charter School Enrollment, WP-223, 2015
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.
How does demand for private schooling vary across locations with different private school supply? Analysis of data from Rural India, WP-222, 2014
The literature argues that families who exercise their ability to choose private schools tend to be better off, more educated, and more informed. There is also some evidence that private schooling may be demanded disproportionately for male children in the Indian context. As more private schools become available across India, will these differences in family attributes and child demographics of those who do and those who do not access private school diminish? Using a nationally representative dataset from rural India, we find that these gaps in private school access, especially at the lower-primary level, may persist or in some cases even widen.
Philanthropic Foundations as Institutional Entrepreneurs in the California Charter School Field, WP-221, 2014
We discuss how a group of philanthropic foundations combined financial and cultural-political resources to elevate a new and divergent organizational form within the California charter school field. Foundations simultaneously pursued three activities that are often considered to be the realms of different types of institutional entrepreneurs. Foundations recombined cultural elements to establish a new organizational form, enforced evaluative frameworks to assess the new form, and sponsored new professionals to populate the form with desired expertise. We argue that foundations are a distinct type of institutional entrepreneur based on their simultaneous endowment of material and cultural-political resources.
- An updated version of this paper was published in the Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Vol XX(X), 2013.Link to published study -
Can broad inferences be drawn from lottery analyses of school choice programs? An exploration of appropriate sensitivity analyses, WP-220, 2014
School choice programs continue to be controversial, spurring a number of researchers into investigating and evaluating them. When possible, researchers evaluate these program using randomized designs to eliminate possible selection bias. Randomized designs are often thought of as the gold standard for research, but this approach can have limited inferences in the context of evaluating school choice programs. In this paper, we examine whether these limitations apply to previous evaluations of voucher, charter schools, magnet, and open enrollment programs. We establish the legitimacy of these concerns of inferences and then look at data from an anonymous district to examine whether students admitted to magnet middle schools via lottery have similar student characteristics (including prior achievement and achievement growth) as students admitted outside of a lottery. The point of the analysis is not so much whether these groups are different in our particular case, but that they could be and there are simple sensitivity analyses that researchers could conduct to see if there are reasons to be cautious about the breadth of inferences researcher can make.
Charter School Authorizers and Student Achievement, WP-219, 2013
In the academic and policy debates over the merits of charter schools, two things are clear: first, they are here to stay, and second, their quality varies widely. Policymakers therefore need to understand how to design charter laws that promote the creation of high-performing schools. Crucial to this discussion is the charter authorizing process, which varies across the nation. In some states, authorizing power is held exclusively by local school districts, while other states allow a range of authorizers that may include not only local districts, but also nonprofit organizations, counties, higher educational institutions, or a state agency. In this paper we use individual student-level data from Ohio–which permits a wide range of organizations to authorize charter schools—to examine the relationship between type of authorizer and charter-school effectiveness as measured by students’ achievement trajectories.
- An updated version of this paper is forthcoming in the Journal of Education Finance and Policy -
Educational Vouchers and Social Cohesion: A Statistical Analysis of Student Civic Attitudes in Sweden, 1999-2009, WP-218, 2013
This study examines the Swedish national educational voucher scheme and changes in social cohesion. We suspected that social cohesion would decline because vouchers in other countries have typically resulted in segregation, and also because Sweden’s private schools were not required to teach civics. We conduct a statistical analysis using data from the 1999 and 2009 rounds of the IEA Civic Education Study of 14-year-old students and their attitudes toward the rights of ethnic minorities and immigrants. Using regression models, we do not find evidence of a decline in civic attitudes and therefore social cohesion. We attribute the results to Sweden’s voucher design and context that minimized segregation and preserved civics curricula in all schools.
The Decline in Private School Enrollment, WP-217, 2013
Private schools represent a significant part of the education sector and provide an opportunity for children to attend schools, at cost, that may offer benefits unavailable in the public school system. Parents might choose to send their children to private schools for a variety of reasons, including the availability of academic programs and extracurricular activities, religious reasons, dissatisfaction with the local public schools, and school characteristics such as class size and student-teacher ratios. Over the last decade, government statistics seem to show that private school enrollment has declined. Although the trend has been noted (Aud et al., 2011), the phenomenon has not been examined in detail. Since private schools represent a sizable portion of the education sector, a decline in enrollment would warrant attention. Specifically, is the decline the result of a particular data collection system associated with a specific survey, or a real trend? Does the trend hold for various socio-demographic subgroups? If so, what are potential underlying causes? This paper seeks to provide relevant background information on the topic by comparing trends across datasets and subgroups and exploring possible underlying causes of the decline in private school enrollment.
Do Charter Schools Improve Student Achievement?, WP-216, 2013
Recent reforms in education emphasize the use of charter schools as a viable strategy to improve student achievement. It is, therefore, important to understand which types of charter schools are effective. I study this question utilizing longitudinal data covering all public school students in the large urban school district of Milwaukee which has a long history of charter schools. Using student fixed effects to deal with self-selection, I find that charter schools, on average, have no significant effect on student achievement. However, I show that this average effect masks important heterogeneity in the effectiveness of charter schools across types of charter schools. Charter schools with higher autonomy from the district in terms of financial budget, academic program, and hiring decisions, are effective. I show that students in these charter schools would read at a grade level higher than similar students who attend traditional public schools in three years.
Private responses to state failure: the growth in private education (and why) in Lagos, Nigeria, WP-215, 2013
Lagos is documented as a centre of spontaneous development of private schooling targeting families from the ultra-rich, to the relatively poor. There is much debate in the literature on the potential of private education as part of a solution for achieving Education for All, in terms of equity in access to these schools, and also their quality and other aspects. It is not even concretely known in most contexts how prevalent private schools are, and this paper provides the answer to this question in the context of Lagos State, Nigeria. Having found 12,098 private schools, the paper goes on to explore the reasons for the massive growth in the sector, through the school choices, perceptions and aspirations of parents living in two slum communities in Lagos.
Choosing Charter Schools: How Does Parental Choice Affect Racial Integration?, WP-214, 2013
In this paper, we present the results of our analysis on the impacts of the increasing presence of charter schools on the racial composition of traditional public schools in the Little Rock, Arkansas metropolitan area. We find that charter schools in the region are currently less likely to be hyper-segregated than traditional public schools, but traditional public schools have racial compositions that more closely reflect the regional averages. In each of these cases, however, the differences are slight. When we use student-level data to follow students who exited Little Rock traditional public schools for charters, we find that the majority of these transfers improve the levels of racial integration at the schools from which they transferred. This finding is attributed to the fact that the majority of transfers involve minority students leaving above-average minority schools or white students leaving above-average white schools.
Fiscal Impacts of charter schoos: Lessons from New York, WP-213, 2012
Given the budgetary strain that school districts have been facing in recent years and the impetus to increase the number of charter schools, concerns about the fiscal impacts of charter schools are more salient than ever. However, very little research has addressed this issue. Using the city school districts of Albany and Buffalo in New York, this brief addresses this gap in the literature by demonstrating how fiscal impacts on local school districts can be estimated and offering a way to conceptualize fiscal impacts that is useful for framing charter school policy objectives. We find that charter schools have had negative fiscal impacts on these two school districts, and argue that there are two reasons for these impacts. First, operating two systems of public schools under separate governance arrangements can create excess costs. Second, charter school financing policies can distribute resources to or away from districts. We argue that charter schools policies should seek to minimize any avoidable excess costs created by charter schools and ensure that the burden of any unavoidable excess costs is equitably distributed across traditional public schools, charter schools, and the state. We offer concrete policy recommendations that may help to achieve these objectives.
Effect of Constraints on Tiebout Competition: Evidence from the Michigan School Finance Reform, WP-212, 2012
In 1994, Michigan enacted a comprehensive school finance reform that not only significantly increased state aid to low-spending districts, but also placed significant limits on local discretion over school spending. These limits especially constrained the high spending districts. This scenario affords us a unique opportunity to study the implications of such reforms on resource allocation, particularly as they differentially affected districts situated at different points of the pre-reform spending distribution. We find that the reform generally led to a negative effect on the growth of instructional expenditure and its share, as well as in teachers per pupil. But these declines were sharpest in the high spending districts. Interestingly, while trends for shares of administration expenditure as well as administrators per pupil also showed across the board declines, these declines were actually the smallest for the high spending districts. To the extent that instructional expenditures are more productive and contribute to student achievement more than administrative expenditures, these results suggest that loss of discretion acted as a disincentive for districts located throughout the spending distribution. Moreover, this disincentive effect was the strongest in the high spending districts. These findings have important policy implications and suggest that school finance reforms (or other policies) that place significant restraints on local discretion can lead to unintended disincentive effects, which should be taken into account while devising policy.
The Efficacy of the Los Angeles Unified School District Public School Choice Initiative for Student Achievement Outcomes: Evidence from the First Year, WP-211, 2012
As policymakers strive to improve student achievement, school turnaround and portfolio management reforms are growing in popularity. The Los Angeles Unified School District Public School Choice Initiative (PSCI) combines these reforms. Using student-level difference-in-difference regressions alongside qualitative analyses, this paper examines the effectiveness of PSCI in improving student achievement in the first year of its implementation. We find that students in PSCI "focus" (turnaround) schools perform significantly worse than their peers in comparison schools on math and English Language Arts achievement tests. However, students in PSCI "relief" schools that are newly opened to relieve overcrowding in surrounding schools perform significantly better. Our qualitative analyses suggest that there are many factors associated with the implementation and execution of the intervention that may contribute to these results.
The Effects of Catholic Schools on Mathematics Achievement in Twelfth Grade: School District Variations, WP-210, 2012
Using the propensity score matching method and regression models with data from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002, this study found a significant Catholic school effect on the mathematics achievement of 12th graders who were least likely to attend a Catholic school. These students tended to come from low socioeconomic backgrounds. A significant Catholic school effect was also found for students studying in districts that allowed private education through public funding, regardless of their likelihood to attend a Catholic school. Among students least likely to attend Catholic school, only those who were eligible for public aid for private schooling received academic benefits from Catholic schooling. The results from school districts have implications for policies concerning Catholic schools.
The Influence of Finance and Accountability Policies on Charter School Locations, WP-209, 2012
This paper examines the location of charter schools in New York State. We begin by identifying a set of location incentives created by charter school financing and accountability provisions, some of which are unique to New York and others of which are inherent to charter schools. Estimated Poisson and Tobit regression models reveal that the pattern of charter school locations across districts are highly consistent with incentives created by financing and accountability policies. Particularly, we find that charter schools are significantly more likely to locate in districts with high operating expenses per pupil, and thus, high charter school payments; low teacher costs; and low performance. Charter schools are also more likely to locate in districts with concentrations of college educated adults as well as high levels of diversity in educational attainment. Within districts, charter schools tend to locate near areas with concentrations of low-income and minority students, who otherwise might have constrained educational choices, which suggests that concerns about the costs of enabling low-income students to reach achievement standards do not discourage charter schools from locating near concentrations of disadvantaged students. This analysis will be of interest to state legislators and their staff, state education department officials and charter school authorizers.
Parents and teachers on local school markets: Evidence from Sweden, WP-208, 2012
This article examines several major features of local school markets in two mid-sized municipalities in Sweden. Empirical material collected for the study consists of interviews with 81 school stakeholders and an extensive review of official documents, statistics and literature. Both parents and teachers interviewed in the study have reported several distinctly positive outcomes of school competition, such as pedagogical improvements, new profiles, increased communication and better cooperation between teachers and parents. However, they also described increased segregation, stress attached to making a choice, excessive time devoted to marketing and grade inflation as a way to improve a school’s position in the market. I argue that a) even if independent schools appear to be winners, the organizational habitat of a school is not exclusively correlated with its position in the market and that b) a school’s ranking is critically dependent on its neighborhood, the representation of highly educated parents, the number of immigrant students enrolled and the reputation and status of the school in the community. The overall conclusion is that the practical implementation of school choice policy in these two municipalities has both built on and continued to promote the socially unjust and segregating foundations of the educational system.
The Impact of Charter Schools on Public and Private School Enrollments, WP-207, 2012
Charter schools are changing public and private school enrollment patterns across the United States. This study analyzes district-level enrollment patterns for all states with charter schools, isolating how charter schools affect traditional public and private school enrollments after controlling for changes for the socioeconomic, demographic, and economic conditions in each district.
Private school enrollments are much more sensitive to charters in urban districts than in non-urban districts. Overall, about 8 percent of charter elementary students and 11 percent of middle and high school students are drawn from private schools. In highly urban districts, private schools contribute 32, 23, and 15 percent of charter elementary, middle, and high school enrollments, respectively. Catholic schools seem particularly vulnerable, especially for elementary students in large metropolitan areas.
The flow of private-school students into charters has important fiscal implications for districts and states. When charters draw students from private schools, demands for tax revenue increase. If governments increase educational spending, tax revenues must be increased or spending in other areas reduced, or else districts may face pressures to reduce educational services. The shift of students from private to public schools represents a significant shift in the financial burdens for education from the private to the public sector.
-This paper was published in Policy Analysis, #707, Cato Institute, August 28, 2012-
Twice Considered: Charter Schools and Student Achievement in Utah, WP-206, 2012
A relatively small state, Utah presents an interesting case to study charter schools given its friendly policy environment for charter schools and its significant growth in both the number and the enrollment of charter schools. Although the population in Utah is increasingly diverse, charter school enrollment reflects a significantly lower portion of students of color and students from low-income families. Similar to many states, questions regarding the effectiveness and viability of charter schools continue to be a point of contention. Based on longitudinal student-level data from 2004 to 2009, this paper utilizes two alternative methodologies to evaluate the Utah charter school effectiveness: (a) hierarchical linear growth models with matched sample, and (b) student-fixed effects regressions. Both methods yield consistent results that charter schools on average perform slightly worse as compared to traditional public schools, a result that is primarily affected by the low effectiveness and high student mobility of newly-established charter schools. Interestingly, when charter schools gain more experience they become as effective as traditional public schools, and in some cases more effective than traditional public schools. Given the measured though continuous efforts to expand charter school options, this research has implications for local and state charter school policies, particularly policies that avoid “start-up” costs associated with new charter schools. .
-This is preliminary version of a paper that was published in Economics of Education Review, Vol. 31, No. 5, 835–849 (2012)-
Integrity versus Access? The Effect of Federal Financial Aid Availability on Postsecondary Enrollment, WP-205, 2012
It is generally believed that access to financial aid will increase the likelihood that students will attend and graduate from college. There is a surprising lack of research, however, on the consequences when postsecondary institutions lose eligibility to disburse financial aid. This paper provides what I believe to be the first causal estimates of institution-level financial aid funding loss on enrollment and composition of student bodies. I implement a dynamic regression discontinuity design using a multi-year rule that restricts institutions’ eligibility to offer aid such as Pell Grants and subsidized loans when alumni’s loan repayment rates are below allowed thresholds. Results suggest that financial aid loss discourages enrollment, particularly at for-profit institutions. The decline in enrollment appears to be driven by fewer new enrollees. I find less conclusive evidence that ineligibility to disburse federal financial aid substantially alters student body composition. This research is particularly relevant considering recent federal rulemaking that will further limit the number of institutions eligible to disburse financial aid based on additional student loan debt repayment requirements. Restrictions such as these are intended to protect students and the integrity of federal aid programs, but may also have implications for access to higher education.ly and more broadly, with robust evidence in favor of improvements in all AYP objectives.
Incentives and Responses under No Child Left Behind: Credible threats and the Role of Competition, WP-204, 2012
NCLB mandated the institution of AYP objectives, and schools are assigned an AYP pass/fail based on performance in these objectives. AYP-fail status is associated with negative publicity and often sanctions. In this paper, I study the incentives and responses of schools that failed AYP once. Using data from Wisconsin and regression discontinuity designs, I find evidence of improvements in high stakes reading and spillover effects to low stakes language arts in these schools. The patterns are consistent with focus on marginal students around the high stakes cutoff, but this did not come at the expense of the ends. There is not much evidence in favor of improvement in high stakes math, or low stakes science and social studies. Performance in low stakes grades suffered, and so did performance in weaker subgroups inspite of their inclusion in AYP computations. While there is no robust evidence in favor of effects in test participation and graduation, attendance improved in threatened schools where they mattered for AYP. There is strong evidence in favor of response to incentives—schools that failed AYP by failing only in reading and/or math did substantially better in these subject areas. Credibility of threat mattered—AYP-failed schools that faced more competition responded both more strongly and more broadly, with robust evidence in favor of improvements in all AYP objectives.
Educational Voucher Scheme in Lahore: Serving the Underserved, WP-203, 2012
The primary education sector in Pakistan faces many challenges relating to access to education and quality of resources. This paper evaluates the Educational Voucher Scheme (EVS) in Lahore, Pakistan aimed at increasing access to primary schooling for low income families residing in the underdeveloped areas of Lahore by using the four criteria for evaluating privatization plans in education outlined by Levin (2002): Freedom of choice, equity, productive efficiency and social cohesion. The study finds that the EVS is associated with greater choice for families as they move from a situation of little or no schooling options to a situation of many schooling options. Similarly, the EVS increases equity by providing lower income families with access to private schools, and because, as studies of private schools in Pakistan have found, that on average, private schools are associated with better resources and academic outcomes particularly for girls. Student achievement data from the EVS is limited however, the sample shows that on the whole EVS students are doing no worse than their non-EVS peers. Furthermore, studies of private schools in Pakistan show they may have a cost advantage over public schools due to lower teacher wages in the private sector therefore, the EVS could potentially lead to increased productive efficiency in the form of higher student achievement and lower school costs by giving families the opportunity to send their children to private schools. Lastly, due to the lack of regulations on participating schools, social cohesion may not be achieved under the EVS as there is no way to ensure that students experience a common educational experience. However, if individuals in society are expected to possess some minimum level of literacy to participate in social and economic institutions, then it can be argued that the EVS could increase social cohesion by equipping children with basic literacy skills.
Heterogeneous Competitive Effects of Charter Schools in Milwaukee, WP-202, 2012
Proponents of charter schools claim that a highly competitive school choice environment will increase student performance. Results in the existing literature are mixed, without a clear pattern across states on the impact of charter schools on traditional public schools (TPS). However, all previous studies have ignored the heterogeneity in the types of charter schools that compete with TPS for students. Using longitudinal, student-level data from Milwaukee public schools (MPS), I estimate the competitive effects of charter schools sponsored by different authorizers on the outcomes of students attending TPS. Identification comes from the longitudinal variation in competition levels generated by the entry and exit of these different types of charter schools. I find that non-district sponsored charter schools have significant positive effect on students’ math and reading achievement in neighboring public schools. However, only in math, this non-district sponsored charter school competitive effect is statistically different from the competitive effect of district sponsored charter schools. Secondly, this competitive effect varies across subgroups of students. Further, additional research is necessary to assess whether these findings can be attributed to competition from high quality charter schools or other possible consequences of higher autonomy from the school district. At least in Milwaukee, I can conclude that a competitive school market with non-district sponsored charter schools is beneficial to some subgroup of students without hurting other subgroups.
Is Administration Leaner in Charter Schools? Resource Allocation in Charter and Traditional Public Schools, WP-201, 2012
There is widespread concern that administration consumes too much of the educational dollar in traditional public schools, diverting needed resources from classroom instruction and hampering efforts to improve student outcomes. By contrast, charter schools are predicted to have leaner administration and allocate resources more intensively to instruction. This study analyzes resource allocation in charter and district schools in Michigan, where charter and tradition public schools receive approximately the same operational funding. Holding constant other determinants of school resource allocation, we find that compared to traditional public schools, charter schools on average spend nearly $800 more per pupil per year on administration and $1100 less on instruction.
A Reexamination of Private School Effectiveness: the Netherlands, WP-200, 2012
This paper readdresses the issue of relative private school effectiveness in the Netherlands. Using both PISA 2006 and 2009 data, the results show that the instrumental variable approach used in Patrinos (2011) is incomplete, highly unstable and unlikely to yield credible school type effects. Therefore, a propensity score matching strategy is proposed instead. The results point to small and statistically insignificant achievement differences between public- and private school students, across all three subjects measured in the PISA data set. The institutional arrangements in the Dutch secondary education sector further support the notion that large achievement differences are not to be expected between school types, despite the extremely large between-school variances in student achievement. The findings are relevant for the ongoing debate on public-private partnerships (PPPs) in education.
Vouchers, Responses and the Test Taking Population: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from Florida, WP-199, 2012
As the number of charter schools has grown nationally, there is increasing discussion of the consolidation of such schools into charter districts in which all schools would be charter schools from which parents would have the freedom to choose the school that they wished their student to attend. A major question is how such a charter school district would be organized to support its schools and who would perform the different functions required. It is argued that three economic guidelines need to be an important determinant of the solution to this question: the presence of economies of scale; transaction costs; and externalities. The article describes the application of these guidelines to the formation of a charter school district and suggests the different possibilities for addressing a range of important roles by schools, their districts and intermediate organizations and markets.
Some Economic Guidelines for Design of a Charter School District, WP-198, 2012
As the number of charter schools has grown nationally, there is increasing discussion of the consolidation of such schools into charter districts in which all schools would be charter schools from which parents would have the freedom to choose the school that they wished their student to attend. A major question is how such a charter school district would be organized to support its schools and who would perform the different functions required. It is argued that three economic guidelines need to be an important determinant of the solution to this question: the presence of economies of scale; transaction costs; and externalities. The article describes the application of these guidelines to the formation of a charter school district and suggests the different possibilities for addressing a range of important roles by schools, their districts and intermediate organizations and markets.
-This paper was published in Economics of Education Review , Vol. 31, No. 2, 331-343 (2012)-
Taking Charge of Choice: New Roles for New Leaders, WP-197, 2012
This paper examines the policy context of charter school adoption and implementation in Indianapolis -- the only city in the U.S. with independent mayoral authorizing authority. Our study identifies specific implications of this hybrid of mayoral control, including expanded civic capacity and innovation diffusion across Indianapolis area public school systems. This qualitative study utilizes over 30 in-depth interviews conducted with key stakeholders. Legislative, state, and school district documents and reports were analyzed for descriptive evidence of expanded civic capacity, school innovation, and charter/noncharter school competitive pressures. The case of Indianapolis reframes the mayoral role in education reform, and expands the institutional framework for charter school authorizing.
Bounding the Treatment Effects of Education Programs That Have Lotteried Admission and Selective Attrition, WP-196, 2011
The purpose of this paper is to estimate sharp bounds on treatment effects of education programs that ration excess demand by admission lotteries when selective attrition cannot be ignored. Differential attrition arises in these models because students that lose the lottery are more likely to pursue educational options outside the school district. When students leave the district, important outcome variables are often not observed. Selective attrition implies that treatment effects are not point identified. We provide a new estimator that exploits known quantiles of the outcome distribution to construct informative bounds on treatment effects. We apply our methods to study the effectiveness of magnet programs in a mid-sized urban school district. Our findings show that magnet programs help the district to attract and retain students. The bound estimates demonstrate that magnet programs offered by the district improve behavioral outcomes such as offenses, timeliness, and attendance.
What Makes KIPP Work? A Study of Student Characteristics, Attrition, and School Finance, WP-195, 2011
While several studies have considered the outcomes related to KIPP schools, this study examines two key inputs: students and funding. The study finds that while KIPP serves more students that qualify for free and reduced lunch than local schools districts, it serves fewer students with disabilities and students classified as English language learners. The study finds high levels of student attrition in KIPP schools; a finding that is common for high poverty schools and in line with earlier research on KIPP. In its closer examination of attrition data, this study found that African American males were substantially more likely to leave KIPP schools. Alternative explanations for student attrition in grade cohorts over time—such as higher retention rates—could not explain the drop in enrollment since the size and demographic composition of students in entry grades did not change from year to year.
Do Charter Schools Crowd Out Private School Enrollment? Evidence from Michigan, WP-194, 2011
Charter schools have been one of the most important dimensions of recent school reform measures in the United States. Currently, there are more than 5,000 charter schools spread across the 40 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Though there have been numerous studies on the effects of charter schools, these have mostly been confined to analyzing their effects on student achievement, student demographic composition, parental satisfaction and the competitive effects on regular public schools. This study departs from the existing literature by investigating the effect of charter schools on enrollment in private schools. To investigate this issue empirically, we focus on the state of Michigan where there was a significant spread of charter schools in the nineties. Using data on private school enrollment from biennial NCES private school surveys, and using a fixed effects as well as instrumental variables strategy that exploits exogenous variation from Michigan charter law, we investigate the effect of charter school penetration on private school enrollment. We find robust evidence of a decline in enrollment in private schools,—but the effect is only modest in size. We do not find evidence that enrollments in Catholic or other religious schools suffered more relative to those in non-religious private schools.
New Orleans as a Diverse Education Provider, WP-193, 2011
In 2005 there were about 120 schools in New Orleans. Catering mostly to a poor and minority population, the schools were financially bankrupt as well as academically impoverished. In October 2005 Katrina hit New Orleans with such devastation that 80 percent of its population fled their homes, one third of the schools were destroyed, and most were damaged. The schools of New Orleans were charged with recovering quickly, not only rebuilding structures and staffing them to accommodate returning students, but also improving vastly their academic performance. This article documents the changes that took place through the state’s Recovery School District, charter schools, and magnet schools. By 2010-11 more than 60 percent of the schools were charter schools with future plans to convert almost all of the schools to function as charter or magnet schools. This transformation has not been without challenges as the local community of educational professionals that had been discharged after Katrina has been replaced substantially by outsiders hired through national organizations funded through national philanthropic foundations. Many members of the local community also feel undermined by the lack of presence of a central school authority that is able to provide overall governance, coordination, policy, and community involvement. After almost six years, the New Orleans schools are still evolving into what is planned eventually as a “school choice district”.
Private and Public Education: A Cross-National Exploration with TIMSS 2003, WP-192, 2010
This article investigates cross-national mathematics and science achievement differences between public and private schools. Using the TIMSS 2003 data, we empirically examine differences through a set of multilevel models that attempt to control for select student background factors. We also attempt to correct for selection bias using propensity score matching methods. A number of methodological issues including the treatment of missing data and the construction of a quality student background measure are also addressed. While our analysis generally supports previous findings of higher private school achievement, we have found that higher private school achievement is not uniform across educational systems or the content domains analyzed. This variation is significant in light of the blanket privatization policy currently promoted by large international organizations.
Competitive Effects of Means-Tested School Vouchers, WP-191, 2010
We study the effects of private school competition on public school students’ test scores in the wake of Florida’s Corporate Tax Credit Scholarship program, now known as the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which offered scholarships to eligible low-income students to attend private schools. Specifically, we examine whether students in schools that were exposed to a more competitive private school landscape saw greater improvements in their test scores after the introduction of the scholarship program, than did students in schools that faced less competition. The degree of competition is characterized by several geocoded variables that capture students’ ease of access to private schools, and the variety of nearby private school options open to students. We find that greater degrees of competition are associated with greater improvements in students’ test scores following the introduction of the program; these findings are robust to the different variables we use to define competition. These findings are not an artifact of pre-policy trends; the degree of competition from nearby private schools matters only after the announcement of the new program, which makes nearby private competitors more affordable for eligible students. We also test for several moderating factors, and find that schools that we would expect to be most sensitive to competitive pressure see larger improvements in their test scores as a result of increased competition.
The Social Cost of Open Enrollment as a School Choice Policy, WP-190, 2010
We evaluate the integrating and segregating effects of school choice in a large, urban school district. Our findings suggest that open enrollment, a school-choice program without explicit integrative objectives which does not provide busing, segregates students along three socioeconomic dimensions – race/ethnicity, student achievement and parental-education status. Using information on expenditures to promote integration at the district, we back out estimates of the social cost of open enrollment realized in terms of student segregation. Our estimates vary widely depending on several assumptions, but a social-cost estimate of roughly 10 million dollars per year is on the high end of our range of estimates for this single district. Although this number represents a sizeable portion of the district’s integrative-busing budget, it is a small fraction of the district’s total budget (≈1.4 billion dollars). Further, we note that this cost may be offset by benefits not related to integration.
How does Information Influence Parental Choice? The SmartChoices Project in Hartford, Connecticut, WP-189, 2010
To better understand how school information influenced urban and suburban parent decisions about public school choice, the authors collaborated to create and disseminate the SmartChoices website in metropolitan Hartford, Connecticut. SmartChoices uses a family’s home address tool to show all of eligibile district and interdistrict schools on an interactive map, with the ability to sort and compare results by distance, racial balance, and test scores. This paper analyzes patterns in the 3,385 distinct searches conducted during a five-month window, and focuses on in-depth interviews and user statistics from 93 parents who participated in SmartChoices workshops. The workshop experience led about one-third to change their top-choice school and one-third to clarify their choice, while the remaining third remained unchanged. Among the 32 workshop participants who changed their top-choice school, they tended to select those with greater test scores and racial balance, but also frequently sorted results by distance. Our conclusion underscores the role that the “digital divide” plays on public school choice in Hartford.
Are ELL Students Underrepresented in Charter Schools? Demographic Trends in New York City, 2006-2008, WP-188, 2010
Analysts of charter school reform have recently begun to investigate the enrollment patterns of special student populations, namely, low-income students, students classified as special education, and those with English language learner status. Using three recent years of data from the New York State School Report Cards and analyzing the charter population at the school level, we nd that English language learners are consistently under-represented in charter school populations across three academic years. Conversely, students who qualify for reduced price lunch are overrepresented and students eligible for free lunch are approximately proportionally represented. This gap in enrollments of English language learners is conrmed by comparing to a population estimate drawn from data from the 2006-2008 American Community Survey. These patterns remain generally constant for all school years observed, but the distribution changes slightly as the total number of charter schools operating in New York City increased between 2005-2006 and 2007-2008.
The endurance of centralized governance systems in an age of school district decentralization, WP-187, 2010
The growth of the charter school movement has once again placed decentralization of school districts on the forefront of popular education reforms. To illustrate some of the tensions inherent in school district decentralization, this paper examines the distribution of administrative functions within two highly decentralized school districts—a highly celebrated decentralized district (Edmonton, Canada) and Lake Wales Charter District, a small district comprised solely of charter schools. Even in highly decentralized environments like Edmonton and Lake Wales, the central office continues to fulfill many of the functions associated with traditional school districts. They illustrate the utility for school districts of placing limitations on school-based autonomy even within systems designed to foster it. Whether contracted out or through district employees, the central offices in Edmonton and Lake Wales coordinated services in five core areas: student enrollment and transportation; capacity building of staff; enforcing continuity in services across schools; arranging for the provision of specialized services, such as special education students; and advocating for their schools’ and district’s own interests. Their schools enjoy increased freedoms relative to traditional public schools, but they remain embedded within systems that perform functions essential to their success.
Choice in a World of New School Types, WP-186, 2010
Restricted-access data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS) allow us to identify household location from a nationally representative sample of individuals and to match the household to the actual school attended and other nearby schools. We construct school choices by considering distance of all school types from the household. With these matched data, we address a very basic question that few have been able to answer: in an environment of increased choice of public and private school types, what are the factors influencing the household choice of which type of school to attend? We focus particularly on the factors influencing the choice among the new types of public schools
The impact of school choice and public policy on segregation: Evidence from Chile, WP-185, 2010
School choice advocates argue that the introduction of vouchers can make improved educational opportunity available to the most disadvantaged children. Critics contend that vouchers increase the risk of exacerbating inequities based on race and socioeconomic status. They are worried about whether disadvantaged parents have enough information to make good choices and whether parental preferences will lead families to select schools based on the race or class composition of their student bodies and not on their academic quality. Critics also fear that in order to remain competitive and save costs, private schools will have incentives to skim off the highest performing students who are usually least demanding in terms of resources. Most evidence in Chile confirms skeptics’ concerns. Researchers have found that Chile’s unrestricted flat per-pupil voucher program has lead to increased stratification across public and private schools. What has been overlooked, however, is segregation between schools within a sector and variation within private voucher forprofit and non-profit (religious and secular) school sectors. Using a highly detailed dataset, I examine public and private school segregation. I find that public schools are more likely to serve disadvantaged – low-income and indigenous – students than private voucher schools. I also find that the typical public school is more internally diverse with regard to ethnicity and socioeconomic status than the typical private voucher school. While differential behavior is also found across private school ownership types, the differences do not always comport with theory. The data suggest that school tuition is much more important than other factors in explaining segregation patterns between and within school sectors. I also find that policies that provide incentives for schools to enroll disadvantaged students can help to mitigate the stratifying effects of educational vouchers.
Mobility, Housing Markets, and Schools: Estimating General Equilibrium Effects of Interdistrict Choice, WP-184, 2010
In theoretical models of residential sorting, a household’s location decision is closely tied to its demand for consuming local public services. School choice programs typically weaken the link between residential location and schooling options. Computable general equilibrium models suggest large general equilibrium effects from expanded school choice, but there is limited empirical evidence concerning whether these effects occur. This paper develops and empirically tests predictions concerning the general equilibrium effects of inter-district choice programs. We examine changes in school district-level demographics and housing values between the 1990 and 2000 Censuses, when twenty-six states adopted these choice programs. Our empirical analysis uses a triple-differences style approach, with varying intensity of treatment across districts within the same adopting states. Consistent with theory, districts with popular nearby, out-of-district schooling options experience relatively large increases in housing values and in the number of households with children.
Teacher Turnover in Charter Schools, WP-183, 2009
This study examines how teacher turnover differs between charter and traditional public schools and seeks to identify factors that explain these differences. Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics’ (NCES) 2003-2004 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) and Teacher Follow-Up Survey (TFS), we found that 25% of charter school teachers turned over during the 2003-2004 school year, compared to 14% of traditional public school teachers. Fourteen percent of charter school teachers left the profession outright and 11% moved to a different school, while 7% of traditional public school teachers left the profession and 7% moved schools. Using multi-nomial logistic regression, we found the odds of a charter school teacher leaving the profession versus staying in the same school are 132% greater than those of a traditional public school teacher. The odds of a charter school teacher moving schools are 76% greater. Our analysis confirms that much of the explanation of this “turnover gap” lies in differences in the types of teachers that charter schools and traditional public schools hire. The data lend minimal support to the claim that turnover is higher in charter schools because they are leveraging their flexibility in personnel policies to get rid of underperforming teachers. Rather, we found most of the turnover in charter schools is voluntary and dysfunctional as compared to that of traditional public schools.
Parental Choice in the Netherlands: Growing Concerns about Segregation, WP-182, 2009
The Netherlands has a long history of parental choice and school autonomy. This paper examines why segregation by educational disadvantage has only recently emerged as a policy issue in the Netherlands. In addition, we document the levels and trends of school segregation in Dutch cities. We find segregation levels that are high both absolutely and relative to those in the U.S. cities. Current efforts to limit segregation in Dutch cities inevitably confront the deeply held Dutch value of freedom of education.
Choice, Vouchers and the Consequences for Public High Schools: Lessons from Australia, WP-181, 2009
For over three decades, government subsidies have been a major source of funds for private schools in Australia and private schools now enrol over one third of all students. Analysing administrative and participation data, we find that Australian private schools have used government subsidies to increase the quality of their services (ie. to reduce student: teacher ratios) rather than to reduce their fees. As a consequence, the socio-economic composition of private schools has remained unchanged whilst a higher proportion of public school students now come from low socio-economic status (SES) backgrounds. The Australian experience suggests that weighted voucher schemes are not likely to facilitate access to private schools for low SES students, without significant government policy intervention.
The Effectiveness of Private Voucher Education: Evidence from Structural School Switches, WP-180, 2009
In this paper we analyze the effect of private voucher education on student academic performance using new data on Chilean students and a novel identification strategy. Most schools in Chile provide either primary or secondary education. We analyze the effect of private voucher education on students that are forced to enroll at a different school to attend secondary education once graduated from primary schooling –structural switches. Moreover the data set used in this paper contains information on previous academic achievement and thus allows us to identify differences in students’ unobservable characteristics. Using a number of propensity score based econometric techniques and changes-in-changes estimation methods we find that private voucher education leads to small, sometimes not statistically significant differences in academic performance. The estimated effect of private voucher education amounts to about 4 to 6 percent of one standard deviation in test scores. The literature on Chile based on cross sectional data had previously found positive effects of about 15 to 20 percent of one standard deviation.
The Shift to School Choice in New Zealand, WP-179, 2009
Beginning in 1987, New Zealand radically overhauled its system of education. Before this time, New Zealand operated a more traditional and centralized system, which was controlled by the Department of Education. In 1989, Tomorrow’s Schools Reform was established and the Department of Education was disbanded. By 1991, New Zealand had moved to a market-based system of education, where parents could choose their child’s school, encouraging competition between schools for students. A smaller Ministry of Education was established to set National Guidelines and distribute funds to the schools. However, each primary and secondary school was controlled by a locally elected board of trustees, who are responsible for managing the school. This research is based on past and current literature regarding Tomorrow’s Schools Reform. The first section describes the background and history, which led to the formation of a new education system. The second section analyses how New Zealand finances and regulates the schools, as well as the support services needed for the schools to function. The final part of the paper applies the previously mentioned framework and evaluates the system based on choice, social cohesion, equity and productive efficiency.
For-profit Schooling and the Politics of Education Reform in Chile: When Ideology Trumps Evidence, WP-178, 2009
For-profit schooling is one of the most hotly debated issues in education policy discussions in Chile. Proponents argue that for-profit schools have incentives to reduce costs and to innovate, leading to both higher quality and greater efficiency in education. Critics maintain that for-profit schools cannot be trusted to place the interest of children over profitability. Buried in this position is the belief that for-profits would cut quality in the process of cutting costs. Researchers can gain insight into this debate by examining school systems where vouchers have been implemented on a large scale and where for-profit and non-profit school supply has increased. In 1981, Chile began financing public and most private schools with vouchers. Education in Chile occurs in a mixed market with 46 percent of students enrolled in public schools, 31 percent in for-profit voucher schools, 16 percent in non-profit (religious and secular) voucher schools, and 7 percent in private non-voucher schools. This paper compares the academic achievement of fourth and eighth-grade students across for-profit, non-profit and public schools. What I find is a mixed story. Initial results indicate that non-profits have a small advantage over for-profit and public schools and forprofit school students have slightly higher test scores than comparable public school students at fourth grade, once student and peer attributes and selection bias are controlled for. There is no significant difference in achievement between for-profit and public eighth grade students. When for-profits and non-profits are subdivided by ownership, for-profit chains and Catholic schools have a substantial advantage over other sectors. There is not a consistent statistically significant difference between for-profit independent and public schools. In some cases, evangelical schools produce the lowest achievement.
Supplemental Educational Services as a Component of No Child Left Behind: A Mixed-Method Analysis of its Impact on Student Achievement, WP-177, 2009
The present mixed-method study evaluated the effects of Supplemental Educational Services, a federally mandated component of No Child Left Behind, on student achievement in Jefferson County (KY) Public Schools. SES provides free tutoring outside of school to disadvantaged students who attend Title I schools in their third year of failing to achieve Adequate Yearly Progress on state assessments (NCLB, 2001). A matched treatment-control group design was employed, in which students who received SES tutoring in either reading or mathematics were demographically matched to similar schoolmates who were eligible for SES but did not participate. Student achievement and consumer satisfaction results are discussed in the sections below relative to program, education policy, and research design issues for evaluating the efficacy of SES as a systemic intervention.
Prepared for publication in the Journal of Planning and Changing, located at http://coe.ilstu.edu/eafdept/pandc/index.shtml. The journal maintains copyright to the article.
Implementation and Outcomes of Supplemental Educational Services: The 2007-2008 Tennessee State-Wide Evaluation Study, WP-176, 2009
Supplemental Educational Services (SES) is a component of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as reauthorized by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), and is designed to provide extra academic assistance for eligible children. Students are eligible to receive SES if they are from low-income families and attend Title I schools in their second year of school improvement (i.e., have not made adequate yearly progress or “AYP” for three or more years), in corrective action, or in restructuring status. The present research evaluated SES in Tennessee to determine the: (a) impacts on student achievement and (b) perceptions of SES implementation and outcomes by district coordinators, principals/site coordinators, teachers and parents. Using value-added methodology, statistical analyses of achievement data controlled for both student ability and teacher effects in two alternative models. Principals/site coordinators were more positive than both district coordinators and teachers, but responding parents were by far the most positive respondent group. Achievement results from both analytical models yielded mostly small and nonsignificant provider effects. The implications of the findings for evaluating SES are discussed with regard to both research and policy issues.
Local Demand for School Choice: Evidence from the Washington Charter School Referenda, WP-175, 2009
Many U.S. states provide public funding for charter schools—deregulated and privately managed schools operating in direct competition with government-run schools. While the impact of charter schools on student achievement and sorting has been intensely studied, less is known about the demand for these alternatives. Using precinct-level returns from three ballot referenda in Washington State, we assess the relative importance of school quality and community characteristics in explaining voter support for charter schools. We find that low student achievement predicts greater charter support across school districts, but is relatively unimportant in explaining variation across precincts within districts. Residents of districts with more highly qualified teachers and greater local spending were less likely to favor charters, as were districts with high teacher union membership. The strongest predictor at all levels was political partisanship: areas with more Republican voters were strongly and consistently more likely to vote in favor of charter schools.
Evaluation of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program: Impacts After Three Years (NCEE 2009-4050), WP-174, 2009
The DC School Choice Incentive Act of 2003 established the first federally funded private school voucher program in the United States, providing scholarships of up to $7,500 for low-income residents of the District of Columbia to send their children to local participating private schools. The law also mandated that the Department conduct an independent, rigorous impact evaluation of what is now called the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP). The study's latest report, Evaluation of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program: Impacts After Three Years, measures the effects of the Program on student achievement in reading and math, and on student and parent perceptions of school satisfaction and safety.
The evaluation found that the OSP improved reading, but not math, achievement overall and for 5 of 10 subgroups of students examined. The group designated as the highest priority by Congress — students applying from "schools in need of improvement" (SINI) — did not experience achievement impacts. Students offered scholarships did not report being more satisfied or feeling safer than those who were not offered scholarships, however the OSP did have a positive impact on parent satisfaction and perceptions of school safety. This same pattern of findings holds when the analysis is conducted to determine the impact of using a scholarship rather than being offered a scholarship.
The Qualifications and Classroom Performance of Teachers Moving to Charter Schools, WP-173, 2009
Do charter schools draw good teachers from traditional, mainstream public schools? I use a 1997-2007 panel of all North Carolina public school teachers to examine the qualifications and classroom performance of mainstream teachers moving to the charter sector. High rates of inexperienced and uncertified teachers moved to charter schools, but among certified teachers changing schools, the on-paper qualifications of charter movers were better or not statistically different than the qualifications of teachers moving between comparable mainstream schools. Grade 3 - 5 teachers moving to charter schools had lower estimated fixed effects on end-ofgrade math exams, but I find statistically weak evidence that charter movers had relatively high fixed effects within the schools they were leaving. Taken together, these findings reveal nuanced patterns of teacher quality flowing into charter schools. Charters drew certified, highly qualified, and perhaps locally effective teachers from mainstream schools, but they also attracted uncertified and less qualified teachers. The distribution of persistent teacher quality among charter participants was significantly lower than, but largely overlapped with, the quality distribution of exclusively mainstream teachers.
Public School Choice And Integration: Evidence from Durham, North Carolina, WP-172, 2009
Using evidence from Durham, North Carolina, we examine the impact of school choice programs on racial and class-based segregation across schools. Theoretical considerations suggest that how choice programs affect segregation will depend not only on the family preferences emphasized in the sociology literature but also on the linkages between student composition, school quality and student achievement emphasized in the economics literature. Reasonable assumptions about the distribution of preferences over race, class, and school characteristics suggest that the segregating choices of students from advantaged backgrounds are likely to outweigh any integrating choices by disadvantaged students. The results of our empirical analysis are consistent with these theoretical considerations. Using information on the actual schools students attend and on the schools in their assigned attendance zones, we find that schools in Durham are more segregated by race and class as a result of school choice programs than they would be if all students attended their geographically assigned schools. In addition, we find that the effects of choice on segregation by class are larger than the effects on segregation by race.
Shopping in the Political Arena: Strategic Venue Selection by Private Organized Interests, WP-171, 2009
Why do private interest organizations target certain types of venues in the institutions of government for advocacy over others? Often referred to as “venue shopping”, we answer this question by developing a theoretically grounded typology of venues and connect it with prevailing theories of interest group influence to predict which venues will be targeted by organizations drawing on certain kinds of political resources. We test hypotheses deduced from this framework with data on the lobbying activities of charter schools in the four states. We find that both the institutional structure and the prevailing ideology of an institutional venue serve to attract certain types of charter schools, facilitating their ability to gain access to lawmakers and ultimately begin to have influence over the policymaking process.
The Start-up of Religious Charter Schools: Implications for Privatization and Choice in U.S. Education, WP-170, 2008
In recent years, the number and diversity of charter schools with religious themes and relationships have grown, focusing increased interest in several states on the cultural experiences of groups like the Muslims, Jews, Greek Orthodox, Hmong, and most recently Catholics. While these charter schools do not claim to be religious, the influence of their mission helps to provide a program and atmosphere that are culturally relevant to that religious group. Even though they have a particular religious identity, these charter schools do admit children and hire teachers from other faiths and cultures. Since these charter schools teach the values of religion -- but do not require prayer or Bible/Koran/Torah teaching -- they apparently do not as yet violate the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution -- and are therefore being publicly aided under various states’ charter legislation.
But the concept of a private, religiously-related school receiving public funding can be a delicate and controversial one, as these schools walk a fine legal line separating Church and State. This paper analyzes several case studies of new “religious” charter schools in an attempt to gain greater understanding of their development, as one of the newest forms of education privatization in the USA. Case studies of charter schools include the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, a Minnesota Muslim charter school; Hmong cultural charter schools; the Ben Gamla Hebrew Charter School in Hollywood, Florida, where modern Hebrew is a requirement; and the Hellenic Classical Charter School that teaches modern Greek, located in a Brooklyn, NY, Greek Orthodox parochial school. These comparative case studies reveal how schools with mainstream educational programs can also support the school's mission, curriculum, languages (e.g., modern Hebrew, Greek, and Arabic), and extra curricular activities that are all related to the schools’ particular culture and religion.
Going Beyond Test Scores: Evaluating Charter School Impact on Educational Attainment in Chicago and Florida, WP-169, 2008
Unlike past charter school studies, which focus on student achievement, we analyze the relationship between charter high school attendance and educational attainment. We find that charter high schools in Florida and in Chicago have substantial positive effects on both high school completion and college attendance. Controlling for observed student characteristics and test scores, univariate probit estimates indicate that among students who attended a charter middle school, those who went on to attend a charter high school were 7 to 15 percentage points more likely to earn a standard diploma than students who transitioned to a traditional public high school. Similarly, those attending a charter high school were 8 to 10 percentage points more likely to attend college. Using the proximity of charters and other types of high schools as exogenous instruments for charter high school attendance, we find even stronger effects in bivariate probit models of charter attendance and educational attainment. While large, our estimates are in line with previous studies of the impact of Catholic high schools on educational attainment.
Fulfilling Parents' Wishes: Property Taxes, School Choice, and Referendum Success, WP-168, 2008
Do charter schools improve the odds for school districts seeking increased funding at the polls? If school choice increases parental satisfaction, and those parents who choose schools are among the most attentive to school district policies, then increasing school choice should increase the likelihood that they turn out to support a district's request for more funds. (These voters would be more likely to turn out, too, given that few people vote in school referenda elections.) This paper uses a logit analysis of school finance ballot measures for Wisconsin from 1998 to 2005. The analysis suggests that the presence of charter schools in a district does improve a district's chances of gaining voter approval for finance issues.
Can Interdistrict Choice Boost Student Achievement? The Case of Connecticut’s Interdistrict Magnet School Program, WP-167, 2008
In response to a landmark civil rights ruling, the state of Connecticut has adopted models of choice-based interdistrict desegregation that appear to satisfy current legal constraints. In this paper, we focus on Connecticut’s interdistrict magnet schools, and estimate the effects these schools have had on student achievement. We use longitudinal data on individual student test performance and information from admissions lotteries to implement quasi-experimental, regression-based, and propensity score estimators. Preliminary analyses show that lottery based methods, propensity score methods, and regression analysis provide similar estimates of achievement effects of for the small set of schools for which all three methods can be implemented. We then proceed to use the latter two methods to estimate effects for all of the interdistrict magnet high schools and middle schools that serve students from Hartford, Waterbury and New Haven. Results indicate that, on average, interdistrict magnet high schools have positive effects on both math and reading achievement, and interdistrict magnet middle schools have positive effects on reading achievement. Extensions of our analysis indicate that interdistrict magnet high schools have positive effects particularly on the achievement of students in Hartford, New Haven and Waterbury and do so regardless of how much attending an interdistrict magnet high school reduces racial isolation. The positive effects of magnet middle schools appear to be limited to suburban students, except in those schools that are able to achieve substantial reductions in racial isolation for their central city students.
Is there a Difference Between For-Profit Versus Not-For-Profit Charter Schools?, WP-166, 2008
The role of for-profit educational organizations in the predominantly public and not-for-profit K-12 U.S. schooling system is being fiercely debated across our nation. Little empirical research is available to help policy makers develop informed decisions regarding the educational value that for-profit schools provide to our students. This paper fills in part, for the first time in detail, this void. This paper uses a four year panel of charter schools from the state of Michigan and a random effects model that controls for student and district characteristics. Results indicate that for-profit charter schools have lower math test scores than not-for-profit charter schools. Interestingly, this result holds even when expenditure per pupil is controlled for. The analysis developed in this paper takes the debate one step further as well, and examines the role that the size of for-profit firms plays in the associated outcomes.
An updated version of this paper is forthcoming in Education Economics
Luck of the Draw? On the Fairness of Charter School Admissions Policies, WP-165, 2008
This paper examines the fairness of charter school admissions lotteries from a philosophical perspective, with a focus on California charter schools. Lotteries are an intuitively fair mechanism for distributing some valued social goods in short supply. In theory, using lotteries to determine admission is fair because it gives equally deserving students the same chance to enroll. Yet charter admissions lotteries are more complicated than simply drawing lots, raising questions about their fairness in practice. For example, charters often incorporate tiered preferences into their lotteries, increasing the chances that certain types of students get admitted. Also, because the outcomes of lotteries are supposed to be random, their fairness is hard to determine, ex post. And the integrity of some research findings comparing charter schools and regular public schools depends, in part, on the integrity of charter admissions processes. In light of these concerns, we investigate the fairness of admissions lotteries in two parts. First, we survey how oversubscribed charters in California structure their admissions process, and we raise concerns about the fairness of some existing preferences and lottery procedures. Second, we develop a philosophical argument about the nature of fair lotteries, arguing that in addition to using fair procedures, charter admissions lotteries require greater transparency and accountability. Finally, we conclude with several policy recommendations for improving the fairness of admissions lotteries in light of our concerns about current practices.
Moving On: Why Students Move Between Districts Under Open Enrollment, WP-164, 2008
Over the past twenty years states have used various methods to expand the schooling options available to public school students and their parents. Many of these programs, such as charter schools, private school vouchers, and magnet schools are broadly recognizable and have been thoroughly studied in the academic literature. Other programs, such as interdistrict open enrollment, the focus of this paper, are less visible and have gone largely unstudied by academics and policy analysts. The dearth of studies on this topic occurs in spite of the fact that, in most states, interdistrict open enrollment policies serve more students than all other public school choice programs combined. This paper attempts to partially fill this void in the literature by analyzing open enrollment patterns and trends in two states, Minnesota and Colorado. The paper begins by describing the political development of open enrollment in the United States broadly, with the situations in Colorado and Minnesota addressed in greater detail. It then moves on to analyzing the factors that affect the number of students choosing to open enroll into and out of a school district.
School Vouchers and Student Achievement: Recent Evidence, Remaining Questions, WP-163, 2008
In this article, we review the empirical evidence on the impact of education vouchers on student achievement, and briefly discuss the evidence from other forms of school choice. The best research to date finds relatively small achievement gains for students offered education vouchers, most of which are not statistically different from zero. Further, what little evidence exists regarding the potential for public schools to respond to increased competitive pressure generated by vouchers suggests that one should remain wary that large improvements would result from a more comprehensive voucher system. The evidence from other forms of school choice is also consistent with this conclusion. Many questions remain unanswered, however, including whether vouchers have longer-run impacts on outcomes such as graduation rates, college enrollment, or even future wages, and whether vouchers might nevertheless provide a costneutral alternative to our current system of public education provision at the elementary and secondary school level.
Prepared for publication in Annual Review of Economics , Vol. 1 (2009)
The Impact of Lowering of Academic Standards on Educational Outcomes: Evidence from An Unusual Policy in India, WP-162, 2008
In 1983 the Indian state of West Bengal abolished the teaching of English at the primary level from public schools, narrowing the curriculum to the other subjects then taught. The objective of this intervention - a lowering of the existing academic standards - was to make primary education more accessible, particularly for poorer and rural children, who at that time had low enrollment and high dropout rates. Using two large data sets from India and a difference-in-differences strategy, I investigate the effect of this unusual policy on educational outcomes in West Bengal. I find that there was a positive and significant effect of the policy on subsequent educational attainment, and that this was larger for children from poorer families. However, there was simultaneously a large increase in expenditure on private tutoring. This suggests that families who could afford to do so were supplementing the skills of their children by private purchases, since in a multilingual country like India, a knowledge of a common lan- guage like English has significant benefits later in life, both in the labor market and otherwise.
Designing Targeted Educational Voucher Schemes for the Poor in Developing Countries, WP-161, 2008
Targeted educational voucher schemes [TEVS] are often proposed for poor children in developing countries. This paper explores the design of an effective TEVS using three policy instruments: regulation, support services, and finance. The regulation design addresses the rules that must be adhered to by participating households, children, and schools. The support services design considers the complementary services for all participants and financial and political supporters. The finance design addresses the value of each voucher, total TEVS costs, and sources of finance. The paper concludes that the prospect of a TEVS depends on establishing cost-effectiveness.
Circles of influence: How neighborhood demographics and charter school locations influence student enrollments, WP-160, 2008
This paper uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and dynamic mapping to examine student enrollments in New Jersey charter schools. Consistent with previous research, we find evidence of increased racial segregation. Greater percentages of African-Americans attend charter schools than reside in surrounding areas. We add to the existing charter school literature by examining student enrollments across three geographic scales: school districts, census tracts and block groups. We demonstrate that racial segregation is most severe within charter schools’ immediate neighborhoods (i.e. block groups), suggesting that analyses comparing charter schools to larger school districts or nearby public schools may misrepresent student sorting. This finding results from the tendency of charter schools in New Jersey to locate just outside predominately African-American neighborhoods, encircling the residential locations of the students they are most likely to enroll.
An Evaluation of the Charter School Movement in Alberta, Canada, WP-159, 2008
Under a long-standing Progressive Conservative government the province of Alberta, Canada in 1994 became the first and only province in the country to introduce charter schools into its public system. What was cautiously introduced as an innovation and best practice pilot program has become a well sought-after alternative for parents of the public school system. This research is based on a review of the available literature and previous research on Alberta Charter schools and includes a survey of current school documents, websites and government documents pertaining to charter school regulation and governance. Part I of this analysis presents Alberta’s Charter School movement’s design using the analytic framework of finance, regulation and information. Part II will apply these design elements to four criteria for evaluating privatization systems: choice, productive efficiency, equity and social cohesion. Part III looks at some of the political and regulatory constraints facing the charter school movement. Taking into account the three design dimensions and four criteria of charter school evaluation, the result for Alberta in practice is a system that ultimately prioritizes social cohesion over choice and productive efficiency over equity. With a mere 14 charters in operation as of January 2008, Alberta’s charter school system has a bark that is much bigger than its bite. The threat of charter schools has stimulated competitive response from neighboring local school districts in the form of new programs of choice for parents of public schools. It is clear that the idea of choice is very important to Albertans, yet the politics driving the movement’s expansion, renewal and regulatory environment appear to be rooted in the greater philosophy of social service delivery that embodies Canadian socio-political ideology: an ideology of continued public delivery and control of education.
A Comprehensive, Non-Partisan Analysis of Arizona’s Charter School Plan, WP-158, 2008
Arizona’s charter school plan has been called the “gold standard” for charter school plans. The plan has been ranked 1st for its policy environment by researchers, and has received an “A+” for financial audits. It is highly deregulated and includes a huge number of charter schools, the most per capita in the nation. Yet no in-depth, comprehensive, non-partisan analysis of the plan has been conducted. In the past decade, the Arizona plan has encountered shifting political realities and has become the subject of contentious fiscal debates. Utilizing Levin’s (2002) framework, this paper looks first at how the policy instruments of finance, regulation, and support services are being used in Arizona by policymakers to achieve charter schools’ goals. The paper then lays out specific measures or benchmarks for assessing the dimensions of freedom of choice, productive efficiency, equity, and social cohesion, and undertakes a discussion of the likely consequences based on these criteria. Based on this analysis, the issue of charter school finance emerges as a litigious and contested issue in Arizona. Concerns with transportation are highlighted. In addition, it is clear that the large number of charter schools in Arizona correlates with a wide range of charter school missions and philosophies. But recent state involvement in the curriculum and restrictions on school sponsorship could set precedents for limiting or reducing freedom of choice. Arizona policymakers have stressed efficiency in intent and on paper, but there is little available evidence that levels of this dimension are high. Together with likely low levels of equity and debatably similar or lower levels of social cohesion, the conclusion is that on balance there is little basis upon which Arizona’s charter schools could claim any significant general advantage over their non-charter public counterparts.
School Choice in the Republic of Ireland: An Unqualified Commitment to Parental Choice, WP-157, 2008
Ireland’s commitment to school choice is expressed in both school admission policies and the ease with which groups can establish new publicly-funded schools. Parents may choose between religion-based traditional ‘national primary schools,’ Irish language immersion gaelscoilenna, or multi-denominational ‘Educate Together’ schools. We describe attitudes and practices substantially more supportive of school choice than those found in America and cite current Irish laws and policy documents on which these practices are established. We present direct quotations and summaries from extensive interviews conducted with parents, that demonstrate an almost universal support for school choice even among groups who might have been expected to feel threatened by it.
Estimating the School Level Effects of Choice on Academic Achievement in Connecticut’s Magnet, Technical and Charter Schools, WP-156, 2008
Dissatisfaction with schools and student performance has led to the call for different schools and school choice. But do different types of schools produce different outcomes? School choice programs in Connecticut are intended to provide opportunities for curricular diversity, educational innovation, and to “reduce, eliminate, or prevent…racial, ethnic or economic isolation…while offering educational improvement” (Connecticut State Department of Education, 2006). Using the state’s extensive school profile databases and logistic regression, propensity scores were created and used to match choice schools--magnet, technical and charter--with non-choice schools to estimate school level effects of choice schools on academic achievement. In general, performance was not significantly different between the matched choice and non-choice schools.
Feeling the Florida Heat? How Low-Performing Schools Respond to Voucher and Accountability Pressure, WP-155, 2008
While numerous recent authors have studied the effects of school accountability systems on student test performance and school "gaming" of accountability incentives, there has been little attention paid to substantive changes in instructional policies and practices resulting from school accountability. The lack of research is primarily due to the unavailability of appropriate data to carry out such an analysis. This paper brings to bear new evidence from a remarkable five-year survey conducted of a census of public schools in Florida, coupled with detailed administrative data on student performance. We show that schools facing accountability pressure changed their instructional practices in meaningful ways. In addition, we present medium-run evidence of the effects of school accountability on student test scores, and find that a significant portion of these test score gains can likely be attributed to the changes in school policies and practices that we uncover in our surveys.
Gaining Educational Equity through Promotion of Quality Education at Affordable Cost in Public Private Partnership, WP-154, 2008
Education is an essential pre-requisite and basic building block for social capital formation. Pakistan is the sixth most populous country with 160 million people, 33% mired in abject poverty, living below the poverty line. Pakistan is at serious risk of not attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Education For All (EFA) targets by 2015. Government alone will not be able to accomplish the gigantic task of attaining the goal of sustainable quality education and meet the targets of MDGs and EFA. Policy change is necessary to involve and facilitate Non-State Providers for extending access, equity and quality. There is greater sensitivity now to facilitate private sector intervention by financial, administrative and management empowerment and autonomous academic leadership through Public Private Partnership (PPP). The idea is to ensure trust-based synergy and synchronization culminating in a longeval win-win situation. The evidence has suggested that PPP is extremely successful. The central thematic area explored in the paper involves how robust PPP models are in terms of affordability and sustainability. The paper elucidates on evidence-based research findings with multi-dimensional contents and contours. The findings are based on actual data and practices in operational theatrics in the context of PPP models in the largest province of Punjab under the auspices of Punjab Education Foundation (PEF). By now, there is irrefutable and convincing supporting empirical evidence that PPP carries very secure potential not only for long-term viability but also for sustainable quality education at affordable cost to the less-privileged and disenfranchised sections of society. Efficient private sector leadership facilitated by public sector financing securely integrates and bleeds into an optimal level of service delivery, resulting in better learning outcomes, less drop-outs, ensured presence of teachers and no truancy.
School Vouchers and Political Institutions: A Comparative Analysis of the United States and Sweden, WP-153, 2008
Education vouchers might seem like a natural extension of the liberal welfare model of the United States and American society generally; but they might also seem like a contradiction for the social democratic welfare states in Scandinavia with their state and public sector dominated principles of welfare provision. Nevertheless, school vouchers have faced severe resistance in the United States—with no legislative success as a national education reform—but sporadic and limited state level developments can be observed. On the other hand, in the early 1990s the social democratic welfare state of Sweden adopted a universal public voucher scheme. The goal of the present paper is to explain this counter intuitive and counter theoretical empirical puzzle. It is argued that the different ways political institutions affect political decision-making in these two countries affects the varying policy output on school vouchers in the United States and Sweden.
The Grinding Battle with Circumstance: Charter Schools and the Potential of School-Based Collective Bargaining, WP-152, 2008
Despite its teacher union origins as a vehicle for teacher-led, bottom-up innovation and early bi-partisan support, the charter movement was adopted by political conservatives as a vehicle for market-oriented education reforms. In the process, teacher unions largely repudiated an idea they helped launch. Yet recently, a flurry of discussion has emerged regarding an evolving and potentially productive relationship between charter schools and teacher unions. These discussions were precipitated by the recent actions of a few notable policy entrepreneurs whose work may suggest political and policy alternatives that could advance and sustain the policies embedded in the charter model.
This paper chronicles the political history of the charter school movement in the United States, starting with ideas promulgated by the late American Federation of Teachers President Albert Shanker and continuing through the embrace of charter schools by political conservatives. Through a review of available research, the paper assesses the current state of the charter school movement, including an assessment of charter school achievement data and a critique of the charter school policy framework, with particular emphasis on charter school financing, philanthropic support, and access to human capital. The paper also describes the recent and politically counter-intuitive work by the United Federation of Teachers, New York City’s teachers union, in founding two charter schools.
School Governance and Information: Does Choice Lead to Better-Informed Parents?, WP-151, 2008
Political theorists have long argued that the average citizen’s lack of information and lack of clear policy preferences provide the rationale for public policy to be guided by experts and elites. Others counter that it is precisely the practice of deference to elites that perpetuates and even exacerbates the problem of apathetic and uninformed citizens. According to them, requiring citizens to take responsibility for political decisions and procedures motivates them to obtain the information and training necessary to become effective citizens. Here we look at school choice programs as an environment to provide insight into this important debate. Theories of school choice suggest that parents need to and can make informed decisions that will tend to situate their students in appropriate and desirable schools. Choice parents should have more reasons to gather more information about their schools than parents without options. Alternatively, a lack of any increase in information levels amongst school choosers would suggest that despite the increased incentives to gather information, having choices per se is not sufficient to overcome the costs of information gathering. Analyzing data from the experimental evaluation of the Washington Scholarship Fund, a privately-funded K-12 scholarship organization, we find that presenting parents with educational choices does lead to higher levels of accurate school-based information on measures of important school characteristics. Specifically, parents in the school choice treatment group provided responses that more closely matched the school-reported data about school size and class size than did parents of control group members.
Legislative Activities on Charter Schools: The Beginning of Policy Change?, WP-150, 2008
Despite the recent enthusiasm for charter schools as a policy alternative for improving student learning, studies indicate that they are not increasing student achievement over traditional public schools (Bettinger 2005; Crew & Anderson 2003). Nevertheless, legislative activity in the states suggests that charter schools as a policy alternative is gaining support on the public agenda. Agenda setting theory suggests that interest groups, state and citizen ideology, political context, policy entrepreneurs, focusing events and state resources influence the ability of issues to reach the institutional agenda (Baumgartner and Jones 1993; Kingdon 1995). This study uses panel corrected cross-sectional time series analysis to explore which of these factors are motivating increased interest in charter school legislative activities at the state level from 2003-2006. The number of charter school bills proposed in state legislatures is the dependent variable (National Council of State Legislatures).
The Effect of Charter Schools on Non-Charter Students: An Instrumental Variables Approach, WP-149, 2008
Proponents of charter schools claim that charters provide incentives for non-charter public schools to provide more effort towards improving student performance. However, it is unclear whether schools respond to competition and other mechanisms may counteract competitive impacts. In this paper I investigate how charter schools affect behavior, attendance, and test scores for students in non-charter schools using new data from an anonymous large urban school district (ALUSD). I compare three econometric methods which attempt to account for the endogenous location decision of charter schools - school fixed-effects, school fixed-effects combined with school-specific time-trends, and instrumental variables. Results using school fixed effects with or without school specific time trends suggest that impacts on test scores are statistically insignificant in levels models but significantly positive in value-added models. On the other hand, IV results show consistently negative, and often statistically significant, impacts of charter schools on test scores in both levels and value-added models. However, I also find large and statistically significant improvements in discipline in schools facing charter competition that also differ from the fixed-effects estimates. These results suggest that previous work on this topic may suffer from substantial selection bias.
Choice, Competition, and Organizational Orientation: A Geo-Spatial Analysis of Charter Schools and the Distribution of Educational Opportunities, WP-148, 2007
School choice is intended to generate competition between schools largely to leverage new and better educational opportunities for disadvantaged students. Yet we know very little about how competition impacts whole populations of schools, or different types of schools, in distributing different educational options across segregated social landscapes. This analysis maps new educational options for families, as different types of charter schools respond to market competition within a highly competitive and segregated environment — examining school and organizational strategies in “positioning” themselves within metropolitan Detroit in order to measure the overall impact of these strategies on alternatives for disadvantaged students. Dynamic mapping illuminates the kinds of charter schools that have opened, relocated, and closed relative to racial and ethnic distributions in neighborhoods, providing a comprehensive picture of supply-side responses to competition since the emergence of choice policies. We offer a brief outline of the policy context, considering the primary equity impetus for choice, and the policy implications as they are expected to reverberate through the organizational behavior of schools. Then we present a more complex theoretical framework for understanding likely strategic responses from organizations in competitive education markets. In doing this, we draw on theories from the literatures on industrial organization and locational theories as they apply to what we are calling “local education markets.” We then describe the geo-spatial analyses, providing graphic maps to represent the patterns evident in this case. The concluding discussion offers a brief overview of the equity implications for employing the profit motive to expand educational access.
Educating Muslims in an East African US Charter High School, WP-147, 2007
This article presents a case study of a U.S. charter high school that was created by an East African community seeking a learning environment for immigrant adolescents committed to an Islamic lifestyle. It describes how such schools are a reaction to concerns from Muslim immigrant parents and community leaders that youth are experiencing rapid assimilation at school and are replacing their ethnic and religious identity with an other-imposed racialized identity. Through an analysis of teacher interviews, this article explores how the school serves as an oasis for Muslim youth who wish to maintain an Islamic lifestyle and resist the powerful social pressures to assimilate. It also uncovers some of the challenges presented by having a teaching staff with a range of teaching philosophies, background experiences and cultures. Finally, this study reveals some problematic differences between the cultural and educational norms and expectations of the white teachers and the East African leadership. In the end, this case study emphasizes the critical need for a meaningful and productive dialogue about culture, teaching, and learning between all stakeholders in the school’s operation and success.
Measuring the Competitive Effect of Charter Schools on Student Achievement in Ohio's Traditional Public Schools, WP-146, 2007
This study examines whether charter schools are having the hypothesized positive competitive effect on traditional public school student achievement in Ohio. The research question for this evaluation is as follows: Does the increased competition for students that is created by an increased supply of charter schools in or near a traditional public school system lead to higher student achievement for traditional public school students in the form of higher math and reading scores on the state’s standardized achievement tests? Ohio provides an ideal setting for a competitive effects study because the law allows for independently authorized charters. These schools are far more likely to create competition for students than conversion charters, which are authorized by local school boards. A pooled time series regression design is used to evaluate data from 2002 to 2006. The amount of competition faced by a traditional public school is measured three ways: a dummy variable for whether at least one charter school is located in the same district, the number of charter schools located in the same district, and the market share of charter schools within each district. The paper finds that charter school competition has a consistently small but significant negative effect on the proficiency passage rates of nearby traditional public schools. This finding may be due to a compositional selection effect from charter schools (as charter schools draw higher performing students, the passage rates at the traditional public schools decrease), or a direct negative impact on the quality of the education provided in the nearby traditional public schools (most likely due to decreased resources).
The Impact of Charter Schools on the Efficiency of Traditional Public Schools: Evidence from Michigan, WP-145, 2007
This paper tests the hypothesis that competition from charter schools improves the efficiency of traditional public schools. The analysis utilizes a statewide school-level longitudinal dataset of Michigan schools from 1994 to 2004. Fixed effect methods and two alternative estimations are employed. The results from three alternative estimation strategies consistently show that charter competition has a negative impact on student achievement and school efficiency in Michigan’s traditional public schools. The effect is small or negligible in the short run, but becomes more substantial in the long run, which are consistent with the conception of choice triggering a downward spiral in the most heavily impacted public schools.
A Game Theoretical Approach to Private Tutoring in South Korea, WP-144, 2007
This paper attempts to develop game theoretical models of parents’ decision-making on the consumption of private tutoring (PT). From the individual decision maker’s perspective, investment in PT guarantees a high private rate of return, while from the country’s viewpoint, PT entails a low social rate of return with substantial opportunity and transaction costs. In this respect, Spence’s job market signaling model and Thurow’s job queuing model contain similar implications of investment in education, thus these models were introduced and integrated into PT game models. The Nash Equilibriums from the two PT game models were characterized by the following. First, throughout the two non-cooperative PT game models, when the benefits from PT considerably exceeded the costs of PT, games between parents with symmetrical characteristics had suboptimal Nash Equilibriums that are similar to the Prisoner’s Dilemma Game. Second, games between parents with asymmetrical characteristics showed a Nash Equilibrium where parents with competitive advantages in income, their child’s ability, and preference for education spend all of their income on PT while relatively disadvantaged parents do not spend money on PT. The governmental interventions to shift the equilibriums of the PT game are suggested here.
The Determinants of Demand for Private Tutoring in South Korea, WP-143, 2007
Private tutoring (PT) has been a growing economic phenomenon in South Korea for many years. This study investigated the determinants of the demand for PT in South Korea. Data were collected from 45 proportionally stratified South Korean high schools, and 3,605 questionnaires were analyzed using the Heckman two-stage sample selection correction method. Additionally this study exploited the local government regulation of PT to identify participation in PT, and this serves as an identifier of the selection correction term in the second stage outcome equation (expenditure on PT and hours of PT).
Results of the regression analysis showed that among the students and family background characteristics, students’ achievement level, household income and parents’ education level were positively associated with a higher probability to participate in PT and higher expenditure and spending hours of PT. At the school level, students in schools with higher student-teacher ratio were expected to spend more time on PT. The contextual effect measured by the proportion of classmates receiving PT services were significantly and positively related to expenditure on PT. Residence in urban areas had greater expenditure and hours spent on PT. The implications of these findings are discussed here.
Achievement and Behavior in Charter Schools: Drawing a More Complete Picture, WP-142, 2007
Charter schools are publicly funded schools which, in exchange for expanded accountability, receive more autonomy and experience fewer regulations than traditional public schools. From 1997 to 2006 the number of charters in the US grew from 693 to 3,977. Perhaps surprisingly, given this growth, previous work has found mixed evidence on the impacts of charter schools on student performance. However, these studies focus almost exclusively on test scores as the outcome of interest. Thus, one potential explanation for this discrepancy is that charter schools affect student performance in ways that cannot be measured by test scores. In this paper, I use new longitudinal data from an anonymous large urban school district to assess how charter schools affect student discipline, attendance, and retention and compare these to test score impacts. Using individual fixed-effects analyses I find that charter schools generate improvements in student behavior and attendance but the effects on test scores differ by subject. While I find evidence of selection into charter schools based on changes in outcomes, these results change little after applying interrupted panel strategies. Using Kyriazidou's (1997) estimator, I also find that the results are robust to adjustments for endogenous attrition. Finally, I find little evidence that charter schools generate long-term benefits if students return to non-charter schools.
Are Education Management Organizations Improving Student Achievement?, WP-141, 2007
This longitudinal study of educational reforms in Philadelphia since 2002 uses multilevel change models to analyze the impact of privatization (assignment of schools to be managed by private “Educational Management Organizations” or EMOs) on middle-grades mathematics and reading achievement growth, taking account of the structural reforms (creation of new K-8 schools to replace selected middle schools) occurring simultaneously within the district. Overall,the longitudinal mathematics and reading achievement gains from fifth to eighth grade for students in EMO-managed schools were not larger than those for students in schools managed by the district. Broader systemic reforms, including district-wide increases in the quality and coherence of curriculum and professional development, appear to contribute to broad-based achievement gains in cohorts experiencing those reforms.
Private School Choice: The Effects of Religious Affiliation and Participation, WP-140, 2007
In this paper, we quantify the religious factor in private education in the United States by estimating a Random Utility Model of school-choice in which households choose among public, private-nonsectarian, Catholic and Protestant schools. In our model households differ not only in their income levels but also in their religion and religiosity levels. The model is then estimated using multinomial logit and multinomial probit regressions of attendance at different types of private schools using individual data from the General Social Survey . We find that both religion and religiosity have important effects on the demand for the different types of private schools. Further, it is shown that if religiosity is not taken into account (the usual case), the effect of religion on demand is biased. Our results imply that previous studies on the treatment effect of Catholic schools that have not taken into account the selection of high-religiosity youth into Catholic schools overestimate the positive influence of Catholic schools.
The Effect of Winning a First-Choice School Entry Lottery on Student Perfromance: Evidence from a Natural Experiment, WP-139, 2007
This paper exploits the preference-based random assignment of students to middle schools resulting from the educational reform in Beijing’s Eastern City District in 1998. The data set consists of the census data and administrative data on 7,000 students who entered middle school in 1999 and graduated from middle school in June 2002, and the survey and administrative data on school characteristics including school facilities and teacher characteristics. We estimate the effect of entering one’s first-choice school by comparing the lottery winners (i.e. students who were randomly selected into their first-choice school) and lottery losers (i.e. students who were randomly selected out of their first-choice school) within the same lottery of first-choice school. Results show that entering one’s first-choice school does not have significant beneficial effects on the student test scores in the High School Entrance Exam (HSEE) 2002. However, the beneficial effects of entering one’s first-choice school are larger for students who applied to the top-tier schools (i.e. taking a high-stake lottery) than those who chose other schools as their first choice (i.e. taking a low-stake lottery). This indicates that entering one’s first-choice school does bring more beneficial effects on academic performance for students who were more academically ambitious than those who were not.
The Policy Landscape of Educational Entrepreneurship, WP-138, 2007
Scholars and practitioners are well aware that public policy—the laws, regulations, and programs instituted by governments—establishes the ground rules for educational entrepreneurship. But the actual policy landscape—the political and policy context within which educational innovators must operate as they attempt to bring new approaches to bear in providing schooling—has received little scholarly attention. This paper surveys the politics and policies of entrepreneurship in the United States and examines how and why states differ in the kinds of obstacles and incentives which they have created for educational entrepreneurs. It focuses on charter schooling, teacher and principal licensure, and supplemental services and concludes with an analysis of the effect that accountability reforms, and the federal No Child Left Behind law, may have on promoting new approaches to schooling.
Irreconcilable Differences? Education Vouchers and the Suburban Response, WP-137, 2007
This article discusses the limited use of education vouchers in an era of unprecedented growth in school choice. It is divided into two parts: first, a description of the policy, political, and legal barriers that may limit the expansion of large-scale voucher programs is presented. Discussion then shifts to the efforts of voucher advocates to build support among historically marginalized populations frustrated with the performance of public schools and open to limited forms of private school choice. The authors consider the consequences of these strategies and suggest that the very voucher programs that appeal to disadvantaged families may prove most offensive to middleclass and suburban voters who vigorously object to policies that undermine local authority and redistribute local resources. Specifically, vouchers have the potential to erase municipal boundaries, dissolve neighborhood ties, lower housing prices, and upset student enrollments.
<This paper was published in Education Policy , Vol. 21, No. 1, 40-72 (2007)>
Do Private Markets Improve the Quality or Quantity of Primary Schooling in Sub-Saharan Africa?, WP-136, 2007
This paper examines the role of private schools in primary education in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). All SSA countries have committed to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which include gender equity in access in to schooling by 2005, and universal primary education (UPE) by 2015. Previous research suggests that private schools in countries with low supply provide low-quality alternatives to public schools. This study examines the use of private schools in primary education in Malawi , Nigeria , Uganda , and Zambia . The results indicate that the role of private schools varies more than previous theories suggest. The impact of private markets on the quality and quantity of schooling varies with context of the public education system.
A Comparison of Charter Schools and Traditional Public Schools in Idaho, WP-135, 2007
We investigate the effectiveness of Idaho charter schools relative to traditional public schools, using the average difference in test score gains in the two sectors as well as the student fixed effects estimator favored in the literature. Our findings are quite sensitive to the choice of estimator. When student fixed effects are included, charter schools appear more effective than traditional public schools in the elementary grades. When student fixed effects are omitted, this is no longer true. We attribute the difference to biases associated with heterogeneity in schools and in the quality of school-student matches when the fixed effects estimator is used. We find much less evidence of selection bias, the standard rationale for the fixed effects estimator.
Neither Choice Nor Loyalty: School Choice and the Low-Fee Private Sector in India, WP-134, 2007
The purpose of this paper is two-fold. First, it presents a model examining the school choice processes of disadvantaged households accessing the LFP sector in a study on Lucknow District, Uttar Pradesh . The model presents households in the study as engaging in ‘active choice ’. Active choice is seen as the deliberated action of households in making concerted choices about their children’s schooling through a complex process. The process involved assessing competing school sectors (mainly the state and LFP), and analyzing particular household circumstances and local school markets through a systemic set of values, beliefs, and “mental models” (North, 1990) about education. Second, it focuses on the adept employment of engagement strategies specific to the LFP sector by households in the study to interact with their chosen schools. Since the schooling arena is heavily marketised, household behavior was expected to follow Hirschman’s (1970) classic “exit, voice, and loyalty” framework. However, contextual specificities of the LFP sector necessitated a re-examination of this framework when applied here.
Choosing Schools, Building Communities? The Effects of Schools of Choice on Parent Involvement, WP-133, 2007
Proponents of school choice argue that schools of choice build stronger parent communities. Using data from the National Household Education Surveys Program, a nationally-representitive cross-section of U.S. households, I examine the empirical evidence for this claim. To account for the difficulties in identifying causal effects in cross-sectional observational data, I estimate a model that includes the parent’s unobserved propensity to both participate in school activities and to choose a public or private school other than their geographically assigned public school.
The Choice of Public, Private, or Home Schooling, WP-132, 2006
Over two percent of school children are home schooled and eleven percent sent to private school. I estimate models of school choice using household-level data from three rounds of the National Household Education Survey merged to secondary data sets. Families are inclined to avoid low quality public schools. For families leaving the public school system, they are relatively more likely to exit to home schooling rather than private schools if the mother has abundant time but scarce income, and if the state public school finance system is centralized, making Tiebout sorting less efficient and private schooling more costly. These effects are especially strong among well-educated parents and younger children. The home schooling of older children is more sensitive to child-specific behavioral needs.
Education Tax Credits in a Post-Zelman Era: Legal, Political, and Policy Alternatives to Vouchers, WP-131, 2006
This article considers the potential for education voucher advocates to turn to tuition tax credit policies as a more legally defensible and politically feasible approach to privatization. First, the authors detail the origin of tax credits and the types of existing tax credit plans in a post-Zelman era. Second, they review the claims of school choice proponents regarding the possible benefits of tax credit programs. Third, they analyze the legal, political, and policy advantages that may favor the authorization and implementation of tax credit programs over education vouchers. They review evidence from recent research on tax credit programs and analyze new evidence collected for this article on the Minnesota Tax Credits and Deduction Program. Although education tax credits may solicit greater political support then education vouchers, substantial obstacles may still restrict their implementation.
Education Vouchers for Universal Pre-Schools, WP-130, 2006
This article considers two issues regarding pre-school education. First, it provides a brief set of arguments for government funding of universal, pre-school education. Second, it explores the applicability of a voucher plan using a regulated market approach for the funding of universal, pre-school education. Four criteria are used to assess the approach: freedom of choice, equity, productive efficiency, and social cohesion. The analytic framework is then applied to the Georgia Pre-K program, a statewide and universal approach based upon market competition that enlists government, non-profit, and for-profit educational providers. We conclude that, according to the four criteria set out, the highly regulated Georgia pre-school approach appears to produce superior results than one built upon exclusive production of pre-school services by government entities.
Choice, Competition and Pupil Achievement, WP-129, 2006
Choice and competition in education have found growing support from both policy makers and academics in the recent past. Yet, evidence on the actual benefits of market-oriented reforms is at best mixed. Moreover, while the economic rationale for choice and competition is clear, in existing work there is rarely an attempt to distinguish between the two concepts. In this paper, we study whether pupils in Primary schools in England with a wider range of school choices achieve better academic outcomes than those whose choice is more limited; and whether Primary schools facing more competition perform better than those in a more monopolistic situation. In simple least squares regression models, we find little evidence of a link between choice and achievement, but uncover a small positive association between competition and school performance. Yet, this could be related to endogenous school location or pupil sorting. In fact, an instrumental variable strategy based on discontinuities generated by admissions district boundaries suggests that the performance gains from greater school competition are limited. Only when we restrict our attention to Faith autonomous schools, which have more freedom in managing their admission practices and governance, do we find evidence of a positive causal link between competition and pupil achievement.
Beyond Achievement: Enrollment Consequences of Charter Schools in Michigan, WP-128, 2006
One of the biggest public school reform movements in the past decade has been the passage of charter school laws. Forty states and Washington D.C. have approved legislation that allows charter schools to operate within their jurisdictional boundaries. The academic research thus far has focused on where charter schools have located and the achievement consequences of the schools. This paper addresses a direct effect of charter schools by examining their enrollment consequences. We find that in Michigan approximately 20 percent of the students who enroll in charter schools were previously enrolled in private schools and approximately 80 percent move from the traditional public schools.
The Future of Vouchers: Lessons from the Adoption, Design, and Court Challenges of Three Voucher Programs in Florida, WP-127, 2006
This study considers factors explaining why Florida has been the most aggressive state in the country in adopting vouchers and what this implies for the future of vouchers in other states. We find that vouchers represent one step in Florida ’s long progression of aggressive educational accountability policies. These policy directions, in turn, arise from Florida ’s moderate social conservatism, openness to various sorts of privatization, large and growing Hispanic population, and out-of-state “transplanted” voters who have weak ties to the state’s public education system. Even with this fertile political soil, the voucher programs were adopted only after hard-fought political battles and their future is less than secure. They probably would not have been adopted without the efforts of a single individual, Governor Jeb Bush, whose tenure is almost over. Moreover, the Florida voucher programs rest on a shaky legal foundation due to two highly restrictive features of the state’s constitution, the so-called Blaine Amendment and provisions for “public” and “uniform” schools. This leaves the Florida voucher programs on uncertain political and legal ground. Other states face many of the same legal restrictions—and even stronger political impediments. We argue therefore that while the adoption of vouchers in Florida does signal a continued national trend toward school choice, it does not suggest that the trend will continue in the form of vouchers or, more specifically, in forms that allow the use of public funds in religious and other private schoo
What is the Reality of School Competition?, WP-126, 2006
Research from countries with broad school choice initiatives has become particularly relevant with the passage of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and the potential for all students in failing schools to gain access to new schooling options. A new paper by Cathy Wylie examines school choice policies in New Zealand . First, the history of school choice in New Zealand is discussed. Wylie reveals that 91% of primary students and 84% of secondary students attend their first choice school. However, roughly 30% of students do not attend schools closest to their homes, suggesting some competition for students between schools. Second, the impact of school choice on student achievement is examined. Wylie reports that low-income schools are less likely to produce qualified students and that competition does not appear to have induced these schools to improve. Third, the paper discusses why competition has not lead to superior student outcomes. Wylie argues that most schools in New Zealand do not face structural competition, defined as five or more competing schools in close proximity, and most school leaders are not threatened by consistent competition. Out of 157 schools whose principals were surveyed in 1999 and 2003 by the New Zealand Council of Educational Research, only 17% reported facing competition in both years. Wylie concludes that it is important to distinguish between offering choice and encouraging competition.
Enrollment Practices in Response to Vouchers: Evidence from Chile, WP-125, 2006
Voucher advocates argue that the introduction of educational vouchers can make improved educational opportunity available to the most disadvantaged children. Critics contend that vouchers increase the risk of exacerbating inequities based on race and socioeconomic status. They fear that in order to remain competitive and save costs, private schools will have incentives to skim off the highest performing students who are usually least demanding in terms of resources. Most evidence suggests that unrestricted choice in Chile has exacerbated stratification. Researchers have found that private voucher schools “cream skim” off the high income students while relegating disadvantaged students to public schools. What has been overlooked, however, is stratification levels within public and private school sectors and variation within private school for-profit and nonprofit (religious and secular) sectors. In this paper we examine public and private school enrollment practices in response to vouchers. We find that public schools are more likely to serve disadvantaged student populations than private voucher schools. We also find that the typical public school is more internally diverse with regard to parental income and education than the typical private voucher school. While differential behavior is also found across private school ownership types, the differences do not always comport with theory
Racial Segregation and the Private/Public School Choice, WP-124, 2006
Using data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study (NELS), I examine ethnic and racial patterns of private school attendance. I find that at both the 8th and 10th grade levels, blacks and Hispanics are substantially less likely to attend private schools than are whites. I also find evidence that racial sorting between the private and public school systems is partly due to preferences over the racial composition of schools. In particular, white and Hispanic students enroll in private schools in response to large concentrations of black students, although the underlying causes are unknown. I also examine whether ethnic and racial income disparities contribute to the large differences in private school attendance rates. I find that lower levels of income among black and Hispanic families contribute substantially to the under-representation of these two groups in the private school system. My estimates indicate that racial disparities in income levels explain 34.9 to 56.7 percent of the white/black gap in the private school attendance rate and 49.7 to 57.5 percent of the white/Hispanic gap in the private school rate. Finally, I find that whites attend private schools that are less integrated than public schools, and blacks and Hispanics attend private schools that are slightly more integrated than public schools.
Magnet Schools and Student Achievement, WP-123, 2006
We estimate the impact of attending a magnet school on student achievement for a mid-sized Southern district, using admissions lotteries to sort students into “treatment” and “control” groups. We find a positive magnet school effect on mathematics achievement until we add controls for student demographics and prior achievement. This suggests that despite random assignment in the lotteries, treatment and control groups differ with respect to student characteristics that have an independent impact on achievement. The most likely explanation is differential patterns of attrition among lottery winners and losers.
Is Charter School Competition in California Improving the Performance of Traditional Public Schools?, WP-122, 2006
This research examines the effects of charter schools on traditional public schools. A premise of charter school initiatives has been that these schools have direct benefits for students attending these schools and indirect benefits for other students by creating competition for traditional public schools to improve their performance. Using California data, the analysis examines the responses to a survey of principals in a sample of traditional public schools. In addition, the research assesses how charter school competition affects student-level achievement trends in traditional public schools. The survey results showed that public school principals felt little competitive pressure from charters. Similarly, the student achievement analysis showed that charter competition (measured in a variety of ways) was not improving the performance of traditional public schools.
Estimating the Effects of Private School Vouchers in Multi-District Economies, WP-121, 2006
This paper estimates a general equilibrium model of school quality and household residential and school choice for economies with multiple public school districts and private (religious and non-sectarian) schools. The estimates, obtained through full-solution methods, are used to simulate two large-scale private school voucher programs in the Chicago metropolitan area: universal vouchers and vouchers restricted to non-sectarian schools. In the simulations, both programs increase private school enrollment and affect household residential choice. However, under non-sectarian vouchers private school enrollment expands less than under universal vouchers and religious enrollment declines for large vouchers. Fewer households benefit from non-sectarian vouchers.
Using School Scholarships to Estimate the Effect of Government Subsidized Private Education on Academic Achievement in Chile, WP-120, 2006
This paper estimates the impact of private education on low-income students in Chile . We attempt to reduce selection bias by using reduced-tuition paying, low income students in private schools as the treatment group, based on our finding that these students were, to some extent, randomly selected out of the public school control group. Propensity score matching is then used to calculate the difference in academic achievement of students in the treatment group versus their counterpart in the control group. Our results reveal that students in private voucher schools with tuition score slightly higher than students in public schools. The difference in standardized test scores is approximately 8 points, a test score gain of almost 0.15 standard deviations.
Politics of Charter Schools: Competing National Advocacy Coalitions Meet Local Politics, WP-119, 2006
This paper identifies supporters and opponents of charter schools at all levels of government and describes their motivations and behaviors. The author explains that state and local support for charter schools is most often determined by educational needs and material incentives. Different political contexts produce different charter school policies. For example, charter school legislation in Michigan was designed to increase competition among public schools. Legislation in Georgia served to deregulate public education after a period of increased state centralization. The paper concludes that there is no cohesive state or local charter political pattern, given the variations in charter schools and their contexts. It remains unclear whether national charter school advocates have enough influence to expand the number of charter schools significantly. Local policymakers in areas with few educational pressures, such as some suburban communities, may resist change. Charter schools could end up as a marginal reform that impacts small numbers of students in urban centers, or continue their impressive growth, but it is state and local politics that will decide.
Charter School Performance in Urban School Districts: Are They Closing the Achievement Gap?, WP-118, 2006
In the national effort to improve educational achievement, urban districts offer the greatest challenge as they often serve the most disadvantaged students. Many urban leaders, including mayors and school district superintendents, have initiated charter schools, which are publicly supported, autonomously operated schools of choice, as a mechanism of improving learning for these disadvantaged students. In this analysis, we examine the effect charter schools are having on student achievement generally, and on different demographic groups, in two major urban districts in California . The results show that achievement scores in charters are keeping pace, but not exceeding those in traditional public schools. The findings also show that the charter effect does not vary systematically with the race/ethnicity or English proficiency status of students.
Tiebout Choice and the Voucher, WP-117, 2006
This paper examines who is likely to gain and who is likely to lose under a universal voucher program. Following Epple and Romano (1998, 2003), and Nechyba (2000, 2003a), we focus on the idea that gains and losses under a universal voucher depend on two effects: changes in peer group composition and changes in housing values. We show that the direction and magnitude of each of these effects hinges critically on market structure, i.e., the amount of school choice that already exists in the public sector. In markets with little or no Tiebout choice, potential changes in peer group composition create an incentive for high-socioeconomic (SES) households to vote for the voucher and for low-SES households to vote against the voucher. In contrast, in markets with significant Tiebout choice, potential changes in housing values create an incentive for high-SES households to vote against the voucher and for low-SES households to vote for the voucher. Using data on vote outcomes from California's 2000 voucher initiative, we find evidence consistent with those predictions.
Why is Educational Entrepreneurship so Difficult?, WP-116, 2006
Much of the recent literature on improving education in the United States seeks to promote entrepreneurship as the solution to raising educational quality and equity. But, the historical record documenting substantial and sustained departure from conventional educational practices is scant despite numerous attempts at entrepreneurial innovation. This paper contends that the challenge of entrepreneurially induced change is not due to a deficit of ideas or lack of volition on the part of those who seek change. Rather it is due to intrinsic features of the educational system which defy modification. These include not only such matters as a stubborn school culture, but also the very role of schools as organizations that must serve other organizations and depend upon them for resources. The paper evaluates the record of new forms of organization such as charter schools and educational management organizations as well as other well-intentioned strategies for transforming American education. It concludes that successful educational entrepreneurship must overcome a deeply-rooted institutional conservatism that is largely explained by modern institutional theory. Finally, we should bear in mind that resistance to change can be a valuable safeguard against bad policy initiatives.
Prepared for Conference on Educational Entrepreneurship at American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC, November 14, 2005 and to be published in Frederick Hess, ed., Educational Entrepreneurship (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press, 2006).
The For-Profit Sector: U.S. Patterns and International Echoes in Higher Education, WP-115, 2006
Analyses of private higher education should consider the increasingly important for-profit sector in many countries. Yet information on the for-profit sector has been quite limited. Even in the United States , where for-profit higher education is well-established, only recently have researchers turned their attention to studying its scope and impacts. While the growth of the for-profit sector is influenced by many of the same forces that have encouraged the global expansion of private higher education, including commercialization and privatization beyond higher education, the focus here is on identifying the international dimensions of for-profit higher education and defining its main types. We feature U.S. data and patterns as starting points for an international portrait. We outline the legal and regulatory aspects for-profit institutions, and note their often ambiguous status in many countries. And we propose a tentative classification of the for-profit sector based on the U.S. experience, beginning to apply it to the international context. Generally, while emphasizing the diversity of the sector, we highlight several tendencies of for-profit institutions of higher education that seem to hold in international analyses.
Contributed by the Program for Research on Private Higher Education (PROPHE) as part of a new collaboration with the NCSPE. PROPHE's core mission is to discover, analyze, and disseminate knowledge about private higher education. It is dedicated to building a global network of quality information.
Unanticipated Development: Perspectives on Private Higher Education's Emerging Roles, WP-114, 2006
The global explosion of private higher education, astonishing in extent and intensity, often catches government and most other observers by surprise. Rarely is the private surge centrally designed or even widely anticipated (despite being related to visible and broad economic, social, political, and international trends). Public policy commonly emerges only in delayed fashion. Although not all private growth is unanticipated, the unanticipated share is large and it encompasses a startling range of otherwise contrasting settings. It is useful to identify and analyze the settings, quite common ones, where unanticipated development is most characteristic. These settings include demand-absorbing institutions, which dominate private growth in most countries. They include countries with little or no private higher education tradition, particularly in the developing and post-communist worlds. They also include situations in which private higher education is notably different from public higher education.
Contributed by the Program for Research on Private Higher Education (PROPHE) as part of a new collaboration with the NCSPE. PROPHE's core mission is to discover, analyze, and disseminate knowledge about private higher education. It is dedicated to builidng a global network of quality information.
The Political Economy of School Choice: Support for Charter Schools Across States and School Districts, WP-113, 2006
Public charter schools are one of the fastest growing educational reforms in the U.S., currently serving more than one million students. Though the movement for greater school choice is widespread, its implementation is uneven. State laws differ greatly in the degree of latitude granted charter schools-and-holding constant state support-states and localities vary widely in the availability of and enrollment in charter schools. In this paper, we use a panel of demographic, financial, and school performance data to examine the support for charters at the state and local levels. Results suggest that growing population heterogeneity and income inequality-in addition to persistent low student outcomes-are associated with greater support for charter schools. Teachers unions have been particularly effective in slowing or preventing liberal state charter legislation; however, conditional on law passage and strength, local participation in charter schools rises with share of unionized teachers.
The Evidence on Education Vouchers: An Application to the Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program, WP-112, 2006
This paper examines the academic achievement effects of the Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program (CSTP), within the context of existing research on education vouchers. Extant evidence on the demand for private schooling shows religion, race, and family education levels are the most important factors. Extant evidence on school supply shows reasonable supply elasticity from the religious sector and positive (but small) competitive pressures. However, voucher programs show very modest gains in achievement for recipients; and studies highlight the many potential biases when identifying the treatment impacts of vouchers. Turning to the Cleveland program, we find a number of practical similarities between the CSTP and other voucher programs in terms of demand and supply. Overall, we find no academic advantages for voucher users; in fact, users appear to perform slightly worse in math. These results do not vary according to: adjustments for prior ability; intention-to-treat versus treatment effects; and dosage differences. Contrary to claims for other voucher programs, the CSTP is not differentially effective for African American students.
Charter, Private, Public Schools and Academic Achievement: New Evidence from NAEP Mathematics Data, WP-111, 2006
Common wisdom holds that private schools achieve better academic results than public schools. Assumptions of the superiority of private-style organizational models are reflected in voucher and charter programs, and in the choice provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act. However, most studies that compare achievement between private and public school students either fail to account for differences in student background characteristics or are based on assessments of students who have since graduated from high school. This analysis compares student achievement in traditional public, private, and charter schools on the 2003 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) mathematics exam. Hierarchical linear modeling is used to control for demographic characteristics and school location. Findings reveal that demographic differences between students in public and private schools account for the relatively high raw scores of private schools on the NAEP. Indeed, after controlling for these differences, public school students generally score better than their private school peers. Three other findings warrant mention. First, Lutheran schools are the highest performing private schools. Second, Conservative Christian schools, the fastest growing private school sector, are the lowest performing private schools. Third, fourth graders in charter schools scored below public school students, but eighth graders in charter schools scored above public school students. This suggests that assessments of charter schools must pay careful attention to the sample population that is being examined
The Effect of Charter Schools on School Peer Composition, WP-110, 2006
Few topics in education inspire as much debate as charter schools, which first appeared on the educational landscape in 1992 and now include some 3,500 schools operating in 40 states. Fueling this debate are recent studies of charter school student achievement (Buddin and Zimmer, 2005; AFT, 2004; Booker et al., 2004; Sass, 2005; Hoxby, 2004; Bifulco and Ladd, 2005a; Hanushek et al., 2002). While these studies have been informative, they generally have not shed light on a broader set of questions, including the effect charter schools have on the distribution of students by race/ethnicity and ability. Charter school critics argue that charter success might be illusory if charter schools are simply recruiting the best students from traditional public schools and that charter schools may further stratify an already racially stratified system. One way to address these concerns is to analyze the effect of the redistribution of students to charter schools on the dynamics of peers within traditional public schools. In this study, we examine charter and traditional public schools in California and Texas . In both states, we have student-level data over time with unique identifiers, which allow us to track students as they move between traditional public schools and charter schools. We find that black students in both states are more likely to move to charter schools and tend to move to charter schools with a higher percentage of black students, and those schools are more racially concentrated than the public schools they leave. We also find that students who move to charter schools are on average lower performing than other students at the public schools they leave and that this performance gap is largest for black students
Is There Any Cream to Skim? Sorting, Within-School Heterogeneity, and the Scope for Cream-Skimming, WP-109, 2005
Critics of school choice argue that cream-skimming will worsen outcomes for those left behind in public schools, a dynamic that relies on a substantial degree of within-school heterogeneity. Since "high quality" families may have already sorted themselves, or may represent a small fraction of the total, this paper will examine whether existing within school heterogeneity leaves any scope for cream-skimming to operate. The first empirical section shows that the assumptions made by simulation studies over estimate within school heterogeneity by at least 20% to 40%, thus initiating the cream-skimming effect. The second empirical section asks, “given the current level of within-school heterogeneity, how strong would peer effects have to be to significantly worsen outcomes for those left behind?". In order for cream skimming to lower math test scores by a decile, the peer effect would have to be larger than the effect of converting both parents from college graduates to high-school dropouts. In order for cream skimming to substantially worsen dropout rates or college attendance rates, the peer effect would have to be two to three times larger than the strongest estimated predictor of these outcomes. The required peer effects would be smaller, but still unreasonably large, if family types started from a uniform distribution. These results indicate that current levels of within school heterogeneity are so low that peer effects would have to be unrealistically strong to give cream skimming any bite.
The Public Choice of Educational Choice, WP-108, 2005
The very small literature explaining (1) how citizens have voted in two California voucher referenda, (2) how legislators have voted on voucher bills in the State of Florida and the US Congress, and (3) the variation across states in charter school provisions is summarized. New empirical evidence documenting the cross-state variation in the success of voucher referenda and voucher bills is examined. Voucher bill characteristics and state characteristics play important roles. Voucher bills have been passed only in the more conservative Republican states, and almost all of the successful voucher programs have been targeted at large, struggling school districts.
Financing Lifelong Learning: Potential of and Problems with Individual Learning Accounts in Three Countries, WP-107, 2005
Lifelong learning has prominently risen to the top of policy agendas in many countries. Interest has been fueled, in part, by industry, which considers lifelong learning an appropriate skill formation strategy for economic growth. Policymakers have been pressured to implement and finance lifelong learning programs. However, there has been difficulty in estimating the approximate cost of lifelong learning, as well as determining a viable funding scheme that distributes costs across various stakeholders. This paper concentrates on the financing issue. First, the main characteristics and models of lifelong learning are discussed. In a second section, the main financing systems that have been suggested for a lifelong learning system are presented and analyzed. Thirdly, more recently emerged models of individualized learning accounts (ILAs) and their potential and actual role for financing lifelong learning is examined.
All Choices Created Equal? How Good Parents Select “Failing” Schools, WP-106, 2005
Recent reports suggest that the vast majority (up to 97%) of parents with children in “failing” schools choose to leave their children in those schools, even when it is their legal right to do otherwise. These reports -- and the puzzling behavior they describe -- draw attention to researchers’ limited ability to explain parents’ actions. This study addresses this limitation by investigating the “black box” of choice -- the processes parents use to choose. Based on interviews with 48 urban parents during the eight months preceding the selection of a middle or high school, the study finds that differences in the choice process did not explain why parents chose failing schools. Instead, differences in choice sets explain, in part, why parents choose the schools they do. Using social networks, customary attendance patterns, and their understanding of their child’s academic achievement, parents constructed choice sets that varied systematically by social-class background. The differences between parents’ choice sets were statistically significant and provide insight into why it makes sense that well-intentioned parents choose failing schools. The study’s findings elaborate our understanding of the choice process and, in so doing, raise concerns about the ability of current choice policies to deliver the equity outcomes reformers suggest.
Exploring the Correlates of Academic Success in Pennsylvania Charter Schools, WP-105, 2005
To date, most of the scholarly and policy debate regarding charter schools has focused on two questions: (a) whether charter schools are using their autonomy to engage in innovative practices and (b) whether students in charter schools, taken as a group, perform better or worse than similar students in noncharter public schools. For the most part, however, scholars have done relatively little to bring these two sets of questions together in order to assess whether some uses of charter school autonomy are more academically productive than others. This study seeks to identify factors that distinguish academically successful charter schools from others. Using a unique data set on Pennsylvania charter schools, the study tests explanations about the correlates of academic success. Using what might best be termed “pseudo-growth curve analysis,” the study finds that charter schools with higher degrees of perceived accountability produce stronger score growth. Similarly, charter schools with higher degrees of teacher mission commitment and leadership stability produce stronger growth rates in reading and math. Schools with higher degrees of classroom autonomy appear to have lower growth rates, perhaps reflecting recent research on the importance of shared professional culture in teaching and learning. Finally, parent volunteerism appears to be negatively associated with score growth, though it is not clear whether this is simply a proxy for poor governance. While conclusions are limited by the properties of available test score data and a small number of cases, the findings from this study provide a useful early foray into an important policy and school-design question.
The Effect of Charter Schools on Traditional Public School, WP-104, 2005
Texas has been an important player in the emergence of the charter school industry. We test for a competitive effect of charters by looking for changes in student achievement in traditional public schools following charter market penetration. We use an eight-year panel of data on individual student test scores for public schools students in Texas in order to evaluate the achievement impact of charter schools. We control for student background in two ways. We estimate a model which includes campus fixed effects to control for campus demographic and peer group characteristics, and student fixed effects to control directly for student and student family background characteristics. We find a positive and significant effect of charter school penetration on traditional public school student outcomes.
An Analysis of Florida’s Voluntary Pre-K Program, WP-103, 2005
On January 2, 2005, Governor Jeb Bush signed House Bill 1-A (HB 1A) into law, which created Florida’s Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) Program. Using the policy instruments of regulation, finance, and support services, the VPK program is analyzed. The likely consequences of the VPK program on the criteria of freedom of choice, productive efficiency, equity, and social cohesion based on specific benchmarks are predicted using the analysis of the policy instruments. The Florida VPK program appears to favor the principles of freedom of choice and efficiency at the expense of equity and social cohesion.
Re-Examining a Primary Premise of Market Theory: An Analysis of NAEP Data on Achievement in Public and Private Schools, WP-102, 2005
This study examines the mathematics performance of students in public, Catholic, and other private schools. In view of widespread interest in private models for education organization, it is important to understand the impact of different school models on students’ academic achievement. Drawing on a representative sample of 23,000 4 th- and 8 th -grade students in 1,340 public and private schools, this analysis confirms that private school students, on average, scored substantially higher than their public school counterparts. However, contrary to previous studies, this HLM analysis found that the performance of students in Catholic and other private schools actually falls significantly below that of public school students when accounting for SES, race, and disability status differences in the populations of these schools. At this time when market-style reforms are changing the public school landscape, this study offers fresh evidence that challenges common assumptions about the general superiority of private schools.
Average Teacher Salaries and Returns to Experience in Charter Schools, WP-101, 2005
Schools need to offer competitive salaries for both new and experienced teachers to recruit and retain qualified teachers. Previous research indicates that charter schools may have less qualified teachers than traditional public schools. One explanation for this qualification disparity is that charter schools may not pay teachers competitive salaries, even after adjusting for differences in working conditions . This paper explores teacher salaries in charter and traditional public schools using the 1999-2000 Schools and Staffing Survey. Specifically, it compares beginning teacher salaries and the return to experience in these schools. The Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) technique used in this paper allows me to account for teachers being clustered within school systems and to examine factors that may strengthen or weaken the relationship between salary and years of experience. The main findings imply that while salaries for first-year teachers are similar in charter and traditional public schools, teachers in charter schools receive a lower return to experience. This results in sizeable salary differences for teachers with more than a couple of years of experience in charter schools compared to their traditional public school counterparts. These findings suggest that charter schools may have difficulty retaining teachers, and teacher turnover has been reported to be a significant problem in such schools . While charter schools may be able to compete with traditional public schools in initial teacher hiring, charter schools may lose teachers to public schools as teachers gain experience.
Do Vouchers Lead to Sorting even under Random Private School Selection? Evidence from Milwaukee Voucher Program, WP-100, 2005
This paper analyzes the impact of voucher design on student sorting, and more specifically investigates whether there are feasible ways of designing vouchers that can reduce or eliminate student sorting. It studies these questions in the context of the Milwaukee voucher program. Much of the existing literature investigates the question of sorting where private schools can screen students. However, the publicly funded U.S. voucher programs require private schools to accept all students unless oversubscribed and to pick students randomly if oversubscribed. The paper focuses on two crucial features of the Milwaukee voucher program–random private school selection and the absence of topping up of vouchers. In the context of a theoretical model, it argues that random private school selection alone cannot prevent student sorting. However, random private school selection coupled with the absence of topping up can preclude sorting by income, although there is still sorting by ability. Using a logit model and student level data from the Milwaukee voucher program, it then establishes that random selection has indeed taken place so that it provides an appropriate setting to test the corresponding theoretical predictions in the data. Next, using several alternative logit specifications, it demonstrates that these predictions are validated empirically. These findings have important policy implications.
Supply and Demand in a Public School Choice Program, WP-099, 2005
This study examines parents’ demand for sending their children to a public school located outside their residential school district. Using a unique data set that contains information concerning both inter-district transfers and rejections of transfer applications, I am able to identify which school district characteristics attract the greatest demand for incoming transfers. The analyses reveal that mean student test scores are stronger predictors of transfer demand than both students’ socio-economic characteristics and school district spending, suggesting that parents care more about outcomes than inputs. In addition, while districts are only supposed to reject transfer students due to capacity concerns, I find evidence that districts also constrain the supply of transfer spaces due to concerns about potential negative peer effects. These findings contribute to the literature concerning the parental demand for schooling and provide information concerning the possible effects of the No Child Left Behind Act’s school choice provisions on the redistribution of student enrollments.
Free Speech and Free Exercise of Religion in California Charter Schools, WP-098, 2005
Religion in the public schools has always been a contentious issue. Federal and state Constitutions originally trumped debates over religion in public schools by strictly forbidding its promotion. Paradoxically, the facilities and resources of traditional public schools can be used for religious purposes unrelated to school activities. Now, charter schools may challenge traditional agreements relied on to separate church from state. J. Shelton Baxter examines this issue by looking at charter school law in the state of California . California law explicitly prohibits state charter schools from supporting religion in any form, which may lead to legal challenges. Some charter school supporters have argued that increased autonomy should mean charter schools are free to follow any mission, even those of a religious nature. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many charter schools are founded by faith-based homeschoolers, located in religious buildings and aided financially by religious connections. Baxter finds that California ’s charter school law can be challenged on two fronts. First, the current exclusion of religion in all forms, even the use of facilities and resources by outside religious organizations, is inconsistent with accepted public school actions. Second, California law may conflict with previous Federal judicial decisions. The solution may be to make charter school regulations mirror those of traditional public schools. Whether this would stifle the innovation that drives the popularity of charter reform remains unknown.
An Analysis of Parental Preferences and Search Behavior, WP-097, 2005
This study by Gregory Elacqua examines the actual behavior of parents when selecting schools in the Metropolitan Region of Santiago, Chile. Chile has sponsored a national voucher program since 1980 where all students can choose to enroll in public, private non-profit or for-profit schools, both secular and religious. First, Elacqua conducts a survey of parents. He agrees with past studies and reports that parents list academics to be important when selecting a school. Next, Elacqua conducts a multivariate analysis of parental behavior to ascertain what criteria parents actually used in making their decisions. He found that parents’ decisions were more heavily influenced by school demographics than academic performance. Based on this evidence, he argues that unfettered choice may further stratify student populations, thereby reducing competition and incentives for schools to improve. Associate Director of the NCSPE, Dr. Clive Belfield remarks that “market-based reforms are intended to give parents choices about schools. But they simply assume that parents can make informed choices. This paper examines directly the information sets that parents use to make these choices .”
Are Charter School Students Harder to Educate? Evidence from Washington D.C., WP-096, 2004
The academic achievement of charter school students has been hotly contested in recent months. One major point of controversy among policy analysts and in the media is whether charter school students are in some way harder to educate than students enrolled in traditional public schools. This debate reveals a limited and often contradictory understanding of charter school reform. While charter school advocates currently claim that charter schools serve a less privileged population, charter school opponents have long held that choice reforms serve more advantaged families. Identifying primary characteristics of charter school students will aid future comparisons of student performance. The following paper investigates the educability of charter school students in Washington D.C. for the 2002-03 school year. We begin by examining a simple binomial model of the proportion of students in key demographic and programmatic categories linked to educability. We then turn to the estimation of a more theoretically appropriate mixture model that assumes two latent categories of charter schools. We conclude with an analysis that moves beyond simple demographic/programmatic factors to consider measures of educability using individual-level survey data from charter and traditional public school students. Overall, we find little evidence of differences in the educability of students in the two sectors.
Vouchers and Public Policy: When Ideology Trumps Evidence, WP-095, 2004
The economic model of education policy assumes a substantial consensus for a common set of educational goals. Unfortunately, such agreement rarely exists in the construction of real world reforms. In the case of educational vouchers, this problem is exacerbated by multiple goals and a lack of credible evidence, which neither supports nor refutes program effectiveness. Research has become a venue for competing ideologies and we conclude that the frenzied search for evidence on the impact of vouchers on student achievement is a charade that will not settle the debate. The primary conflict is between what we term libertarian and social contract positions. Libertarians believe freedom of choice should be the highest priority of voucher reforms and assume that increased options will promote greater efficiency and (possibly) equity. Advocates for a social contract maintain that education generates important positive externalities that are best promoted through a free, publicly-funded and democratically determined system. The following paper contends that evaluations must openly acknowledge and account for competing beliefs. We define a comprehensive framework of analysis that employs four criteria– freedom of choice, efficiency, equity, and social cohesion–to analyze the regulation, finance, and social services provisions of individual voucher programs. Our framework allows policy makers to gauge desired outcomes and understand the tradeoffs that choice reforms entail, especially when evidence is limited. This article was also published in the American Journal of Education, 111, August 2005.
Vouchers, Inequalities and the Chilean Experience, WP-094, 2004
Vouchers are one of the most discussed educational policies. However, little attention has been given to how the structure of specific vouchers affects the outcome of the system. This article examines Chile's twenty years of experience with a flat voucher from the perspective of social inequality. When vouchers deliver the same resources to children from different socioeconomic backgrounds, there is a design problem that needs to be addressed. We propose a modification of the current voucher applied in Chile to an income related system (a basic voucher plus a means-tested voucher) and estimate the financial resources involved. We also set out general lessons for those interested in introducing a national voucher system.
Differences in Educational Production Between Dutch Public and Religious Schools, WP-093, 2004
A common finding in the economic literature on schooling effectiveness is the phenomenon of better performance by religious, and more precisely, Catholic schools in terms of scholastic achievement, educational attainment and measurable labor market outcomes (i.e. subsequent employment status and wages). While the majority of this research in the economic sciences stems from the US, fueling the debate over public financing of private education in this country, comparatively little research directly addressing the phenomenon has been performed in the Netherlands despite evidence of a significant achievement premium to Dutch Catholic schools. This study explores the phenomenon of superior achievement of Catholic over other (public and Protestant) primary schools in theNetherlands .
Although this is a common finding across other countries, the case of the Netherlands differs in that it is unlikely the premium to Catholic versus public and Protestant education has to do with systematic differences in funding or administrative selection of better/worse students across these educational sectors. However, self-selection of schools by parents may be a significant source of selectivity bias. Therefore, extra attention is taken in controlling for parental self-selection for students into the three main school sectors (Catholic, public, and Protestant) when estimating the causal effect of each on scholastic achievement through the use of an IV technique. We also control for a wide variety of (potentially achievement enhancing) educational practices that may be more pervasive and/or efficient in the Catholic sector to attempt to explain the persistent achievement advantage of Catholic schools inHolland .
The Use of Educational Vouchers in Colombia, WP-092, 2004
This paper offers a specific analysis of the Colombian voucher plan, or the Programa de Ampliación de la Educatión Secundaria (PACES). The paper is dedicated to an examination of the Colombian context and a full outline of the voucher program, including its finance, regulation and support service provisions. These three policy tools can be used to affect specific goals and outcomes of a voucher program. A third section provides a method for evaluation of program outcomes, and a fourth discusses results. Section five provides a brief look at how Columbia has progressed after the voucher program and offers conclusion.
Do Charter Schools Promote Student Citizenship?, WP-091, 2004
Many believe that citizenship education is core to maintaining democratic practices and a strong civil society. As such, it is an important topic to academic researchers and policy makers. Recent research has examined the extent to which voucher-supported private schools may provide superior civic skills and knowledge to their public counterparts. We extend this research to include an important class of schools—charter schools, using original survey data of students and parents in the Washington , D.C. public school system. We find that students in charter schools report a higher amount of community participation and training in civic skills, but have about the same political tolerance as their traditional public school counterparts.
High school types, academic performance and early labor market outcomes, WP-090, 2004
Using micro data on the 1995 cohort of Italian high school graduates, this paper studies the relationship between the type of high school attended (general versus technical; private versus public) and indicators of subsequent performance. Simultaneity issues that potentially bias this type of exercise are tackled by instrumental variables. Results indicate that the type of high school attended greatly depends upon the family of origin and prior school performance. General high schools are found to increase the probability of transition to university and to improve performance once at university. On the other hand, private high schools appear to be associated with lower academic performance. Technical schools improve the quality of the school-to-work transitions, both in terms of participation and employment probabilities.
Outsourcing of Instruction at Community Colleges, WP-089, 2004
The outsourcing of instruction at community colleges to independent firms is a growing practice, though currently limited to non-credit courses. While the contracting out of other services (e.g. food) is longstanding, and has been accepted as increasing efficiency, the outsourcing of instruction is more controversial. Advocates suggest the outsourcing of instruction can lower costs, increase efficiency and quality, improve flexibility, and ease financial constraints. Detractors are concerned about the loss of faculty cohesion and control. Further, they fear that the pursuit of profits by outside providers could lead to shortcuts that undermine learning. Ultimately, survey responses detail a debate over outsourcing that is symptomatic of the growing tension between meeting the broad public goals of higher education and promoting the efficiency objectives of profit-driven firms that offer instructional services.
This report uses interviews with college administrators and representatives of contractors to discover a wide variety of contracting out models, such as full-service contractors, specialized trainers, and on-line educators. The main reasons for outsourcing instruction are: the need for specialized or up-to-date knowledge, the response to rapid growth in particular fields of study, the desire for a wider set of delivery modes, the availability of high quality curricula at low-cost, the greater flexibility of contractors to schedule classes, and the promise of a standardized curriculum and specially trained or certified instructors. Barriers to the outsourcing of instruction remain. Faculty opposition, state regulations, and the inability of private firms to maximize profits can deter cooperation between private firms and colleges. Given the difficulties faced by community colleges and the hesitance of some vendors, it seems unlikely that the subcontracting of instruction will be used extensively.
Home-Schooling in the US, WP-088, 2004
This paper reviews recent evidence on home-schooling and home-based education in the US. Using various sources including state-level information and data on home-schoolers who took the SAT in 2001, we describe the characteristics of home-schoolers and analyze the motivation to home-school. We then evaluate home-schooling in terms of freedom of choice, efficiency, equity, and social cohesion. Throughout the evaluation, we note difficulties in identifying the treatment effect of home-schooling. On freedom of choice, we find that home-schooling may be highly liberating. On efficiency, we compare SAT test scores of home-schoolers with students in other types of school (noting the lack of evidence on home-school costs). There are serious methodological concerns in ascribing overall test score differences to home-school provision, including self-selection of test-takers and absence of controls for co-variates; but we do find relative differences between results for Verbal and Math tests for home-schoolers. Issues of equity in relation to home-schooling arise because families are now the ultimate determinants of a child’s welfare and prospects; we find relatively strong intergenerational academic transfers for home-schoolers. The research on social cohesion, which is mainly published in general media, reports positive effects but focusses entirely on the individual home-schooler and not broader societal impacts. We trace the consequences of this evaluation for policies on regulation, finance, and support services for home-schooling.
Cyber and Home School Charter Schools: How States are Defining New Forms of Public Schooling, WP-087, 2004
Cyber and homeschooling charter schools have suddenly become a prominent part of the charter school movement. Such schools differ from conventional schools by delivering much of their curriculum and instruction through the use of the internet and minimizing the use of personnel and physical facilities. This paper examines how these alternative charter school models are emerging within the larger public school and charter school communities with particular attention to recent developments in California and Pennsylvania . In these two states public scrutiny of cyber and homeschooling charter schools has led to considerable debate and demands for public accountability. Of particular concern is the need to modify the regulatory framework to accommodate cyber and homeschooling charter schools as well as consideration of the differing financial allocations that are appropriate for schools that operate with reduced personnel and facilities and the division of financial responsibility between state and local educational agencies.
The Marketplace in Education, WP-086, 2003
This paper summarizes the trend toward introducing markets into the education sector. We begin with a brief history of the market reforms and then review recent policy developments related to vouchers, charter schools, tuition tax credits, and educational management organizations. The internal anatomy of markets is then described, recognizing both the possibility of imperfect competition and of market failure. Next, we set out a framework for evaluating market reforms which has four criteria – freedom of choice; productive efficiency; equity; and social cohesion – and a set of three policy instruments – finance, regulation, and support services. We then show how voucher policies can differ considerably in how they satisfy each of the four criteria, although unavoidably trade-offs must be made. We then review the evidence on vouchers and choice in relation to each of the four criteria. Finally, we consider what are the prospects for market approaches to education and where are the needs for further research.
Can Competition Improve Educational Outcomes, WP-085, 2003
A prime motivation behind parental choice of their children's school is to unleash the benefits of competition to obtain improved educational outcomes. However, neo-institutional theories of democratic governance differ in their expectations for changes in student outcomes. The competing theories are tested using third grade educational outcome measures for a sample of children who attended Georgia's universal prekindergarten program. This program allows parents of four-year-olds to choose among a wide variety of tuition-free preschools operated by private for-profit firms, not-for-profit organizations, and local public schools. Longitudinal data from a probability sample of children who participated in pre-K during the 1996-1997 school year are used to estimate the effects of naturally occuring variations in institutional structures on students' outcomes after four years of schooling. Competition, as measured by the Herfindahl Index, results in lower retention rates and improved third grade reading and math test scores but does not significantly affect teachers' ratings of school readiness during elementary school. Private organizations react to greater competition by producing higher levels of math and reading test scores while public schools lower retention rates and increase school readiness where competition is greater. Competition increases the likelihood of retention for the children most at risk but increases their test scores.
School Choice and the Supply of Private Schooling Places: Evidence from the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, WP-084, 2004
This paper reviews the research on school supply and reports on recent data from the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP), to inform debates about school choice. The MPCP data indicate that about 30% of participating schools are secular, with the remainder religiously affiliated (although most of these religious schools are Catholic, this number is falling over time). About one-third of voucher students attended secular schools, another third attend Catholic schools (down from 48% in 1998), and the remaining third attend other religious schools. Increasingly, voucher student enrollments are a majority within their school: by 2001, 40% of participating schools have more than 80% of their students claiming vouchers. The supply of new schools appears elastic: 46% of participating schools were founded after the Program was introduced. Explaining this supply behavior in terms of school revenues is complex, however. Many schools report costs above the value of the voucher, and costs only weakly converge to the voucher amount. Plausibly, schools with higher proportions of voucher students do track their costs more closely to the value of the voucher. The implications of this evidence for school choice policies are discussed.
Frequently Asked Questions, WP-083, 2003
Listed below are frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers to six topics of focus:
1. What are charter school ?
2. What are home-schools ?
3. What are educational vouchers ?
4. What are for-profit schools ?
5. What are private schools ?
6. What are tuition tax-credits ?
Building Social Capital in the Nation's Capital: Can Charter Schools Build a Foundation for Cooperative Behavior? , WP-082, 2003
A recurrent theme in political science links the structure and performance of public policies and institutions to citizens’ attitudes toward government and their willingness to participate in politics and the policy process. In this paper we explore the ability of government to affect these fundamental aspects of citizenship through institutional design. Specifically, we examine how charter schools—currently among the most popular forms of school reform in the nation—affect parent attitudes toward schools and politics more broadly.
Using survey data collected in Washington , D.C. , a city with an extensive system of charter schools, we find that, when compared to parents in traditional public schools, charter school parents have attitudes commonly thought to be the foundations of civic participation and social capital. This finding is robust even when controlling for self-selection into charter schools. However, this effect is domain specific: it is limited to school related attitudes and does not spill over into attitudes in broader domains. We then examine the dynamics of this charter school effect over the course of the school year. Our data suggest that many of the differences between charter school parents and traditional public school parents are durable over time.
School choice and quality, WP-081, 2003
The 1993 Survey of Household Income and Wealth, a large cross-section of the Italian population covering 24,000 individuals, reports detailed information on children's attendance at public and private schools and parents' assessments of the quality of public schools in the city of residence. The survey also provides detailed information on the household's demographic structure, income, and parents' education. The empirical analysis indicates that the quality of schools is one of the driving factors in the choice between private and public schools. The results are robust with respect to the particular quality indicator used and the presence of fixed provincial effects.
School Competition and Promotion: Substantive and Symbolic Differentiation in Local Education Markets, WP-080, 2003
School reforms that use market-style mechanisms of parental choice and competition between schools are intended to leverage change by compelling schools to diversify options, develop innovations, and increase effectiveness. An examination of school responses to competition in two local education markets indicates that, rather than promoting diverse curricular options for a wide range of potential students, schools often adopt marketing strategies that target particular types of students. A review of marketing materials demonstrates that schools — particularly those that are intended to drive change through competition — are adopting marketing strategies designed to attract “better” students, often from schools that are already considered to be successful. Thus, schools often act in ways that reflect contradictory incentives for how schools might engage the marketplace.
The Effects of Institutional Variation on Policy Outcomes: The Case of Charter Schools in the States, WP-079, 2003
Many proponents of school choice use the claim of the market's capability to enhance efficiency and improve performance to call for its expansion. But no markets are perfectly competitive, and the local market for public goods is filled with institutional arrangements that make it differe from the neoclassical ideal. In this paper, we look at a particular legal arrangement and assess how it affects the ability of charter schools to gain market share. Using data from 37 states that have adopted charter schools as an education reform, we estimate a fully Bayesian model of the effects of various provisions in the charter laws on charter school density or market share. We find that barriers to entry built into state laws governing the issuance of charters have a strong effect on the growth of charter schools.
A New Wave of Voucher Programs? The Colorado Opportunity Contract Pilot Program, WP-078, 2003
This paper reviews the regulations involved in the Colorado Opportunity Contract Pilot Program. The discussion of the regulations refers to finance, eligibility, and support services. Four criteria are applied to the program: does it offer freedom of choice? Will it promote efficiency? Is it fair? Does it promote the social good?
The Influence of Founder Type on Charter School Structures and Operations, WP-077, 2003
Much of the literature on charter schools treats them as an undifferentiated mass. Here we present and test a typology of charter school that is grounded in the norms, traditions, and perspectives of the founding organization or organizers. We suggest that there are two broad categories of charter founders—those who are more mission oriented and those who are more market oriented—and we further disaggregate these categories into subtypes. Using data from a multistate survey of charter schools we test the typology by examining charter school behaviors related to choosing a theme and targeting, deciding upon the size and grade configuration, and the marketing and market research behavior. Our results are mixed. In some areas, we find evidence of a strong distinction between charter schools based on their founder type. We find that EMO-initiated charter schools tend to be much larger and are much less likely to offer high school grades than other types of charter schools. We find that schools started by local business leaders are more likely to offer a theme and more likely to target at-risk students than are EMO-initiated charter schools, and that, despite the fact that local business leaders might be assumed to share norms and perceptions with for-profit EMOs, these schools generally behave in ways that are more similar to of schools launched by mission-oriented founders. On the whole, we find little evidence of significant differences among the various types of mission oriented charter schools. Charter schools do not seem to engage in systematically different patterns of targeting, marketing, or market research behavior based on school type. In some decision areas, it may be that the external environments in which schools operate and core educational tasks that all schools must accomplish impose similar patterns of behavior on charter schools regardless of their different organizational roots.
Voter support for privatizing education: Evidence on self-interest and ideology, WP-076, 2003
Economic theory advances various arguments in favor of and against privatizing education. In this paper we investigate the extent to which these arguments influence voters’ opinions. We analyze two popular referenda in which some 400,000 voters in two Swiss cantons expressed their opinions on the issue of education vouchers and direct subsidies to private schools. We find that successful attempts to move towards a more privatized education system rest mainly on pure income effects, some other socio-economic determinants, ideological convictions, and possibly the perceived quality of the public schools. Peer-group and tax-burden effects, which play a prominent role in the theoretical literature, do not appear to significantly influence voting behavior.
Government Institutions and Citizen Participation: Can Charter Schools Build A Foundation for Cooperative Behavior?, WP-075, 2003
A recurrent theme in political science links the structure and performance of public policies and institutions to citizen attitudes toward government and their willingness to participate in politics and the policy process. In this paper we explore the ability of government to affect these fundamental aspects of citizenship through institutional design. Specifically, we examine how charter schools—currently among the most popular forms of school reform in the nation—affect parent attitudes toward and involvement with schools and politics more broadly. Using survey data collected in Washington, D.C., a city with an extensive system of charter schools, we find that, compared to parents in traditional public schools, charter school parents have attitudes commonly thought to be the foundations of civic participation and social capital. We then estimate a system of equations that model the complex “virtuous circle” of community-building attitudes and behavior. We find empirical evidence of a link between school-centered attitudes and broader civic attitudes and behavior.
The Corporation of Learning: Non-profit Higher Education Acquires Lessons from Business, WP-074, 2003
“Despite all their obvious faults, American universities have long aspired to be communities of scholars, places for free thought. The century-long campagn for academic freedom represents an effort, against long odds, to secure a degree of intellectual distance from the quotidian pressures, to gain breathing room for professors to critique the conventional wisdom of the day.”
“What is new, and troubling, is the raw power that money – and an ethic that gives pride of place to the things that money can buy – directly exerts over so many aspects of higher education”
“Small wonder, then, that so much attention is currently being paid to the proporsition that higher education should be opened up to greater competition – more radically, that government should leave the field to the market. How could it be otherwise when many institutions that call themselves colleges and universities have abandoned the high ground that has given higher education a claim on the public resources of the society, forgetting that their purpose is speaking truth to power. In these circumstances higher education risks ‘losing sight of its own distinctive features and achievements’ – indeed, ‘losing control over the very means by which its own identity is formed’.”
Democratic Education across School Types: Evidence from the NHES99, WP-073, 2003
This paper reports on the differences in democratic education across school types, using the National Household Education Survey (NHES) of 1999. We replicate the estimation approach of Campbell (1998) and find a somewhat positive effect from attendance at Catholic school or private independent schools on community service participation, civic skills, civic confidence, political knowledge and political tolerance. The results are reasonably robust to alternative specifications. We consider the implications of these results for policy.
Does School Choice Increase School Quality?, WP-072, 2003
Federal 'No Child Left Behind' legislation, which enables students of low-performing schools to exercise public school choice, exemplifies a widespread belief that competing for students will spur public schools to higher achievement. We investigate how the introduction of school choice in North Carolina, via a dramatic increase in the number of charter schools across the state, affects the performance of traditional public schools on statewide tests. We find test score gains from competition that are robust to a variety of specifications. The introduction of charter school competition causes an approximate one percent increase in the score, which constitutes about one quarter of the average yearly growth.
Making the Grade: Comparing DC Charter Schools to DC Public Schools, WP-071, 2003
Across the United States , charter schools have become one of the most frequently used means of increasing choice among educational alternatives. In this paper we use data from a recent telephone survey of Washington D.C. parents to evaluate the success of the District’s large and growing charter school program. We find that parents with children in charter schools rate their teachers, principals, facilities and schools higher than their traditional public counterparts. This finding is robust even when controlling for self-selection into charter schools. However, the charter school advantage fades over the course of the school year. Thus while the higher grades assigned to charter schools are not a function of self-selection, the durability of greater parental “satisfaction” with charter schools is a question that must be studied in the future.
Education Privatization: The Attitudes and Experiences of School Superintendents, WP-070, 2003
This paper reports the findings from an internet survey of 2,318 school superintendents across the U.S. The survey suggests four conclusions. First, private contracts for a range of educational services are widespread. Second, such contracting has a clear line of demarcation at contracting with an educational management organization for instructional services. Such contracts are infrequent; they are anticipated to provoke considerable opposition from almost all constituents; and even when undertaken are not regarded with much enthusiasm or approbation. Third, school superintendents appear divided as to the merits of contracting for private services: about half would definitely not consider it as an option, but an equivalent number are open to the possibility of privatization of instructional services. Fourth, although there is general acceptance of the importance of Federal initiatives to improve the quality of education, enhancing the competence of the teaching profession clearly supercedes policies that encourage test score accountability and parental involvement.
Educational Management Organizations and the Development of Professional Community in Charter Schools, WP-069, 2003
This paper examines the ways in which entities external to schools, in this case for-profit educational management organizations (EMOs), can influence the development of school professional community. Drawing on case studies of six charter schools operated by three EMOs, we examine the presence of the five elements of professional community (Kruse, Louis, & Bryk, 1995), supports and barriers to the development of professional community, and the role of EMOs in influencing those supports and barriers. We found that EMO staff can influence professional community in important ways, through the design of their programs (including the structures that they set up for the use of time and staffing) and their informal relationships with schools (including their roles as “cheerleaders,” constructive critics, flexible keepers of the model, and reliable managers). The findings of this study have important implications for the potential of other central entities, including school districts, to influence professional community.
Evaluating Private Higher Education in the Philippines: The Case for Choice, Equity and Efficiency, WP-068, 2003
Private higher education has long dominated higher education systems in the Philippines, considered as one of the highest rates of privatization in the world. The focus of this paper is to provide a comprehensive picture of the nature and extent of private higher education in the Philippines. Elements of commonality as well as differences are highlighted, along with the challenges faced by private institutions of higher education. From this evidence, it is essential to consider the role of private higher education and show how, why and where the private education sector is expanding in scope and number. In this paper, the task of exploring private higher education from the Philippine experience breaks down in several parts: sourcing of funds, range of tuition and courses of study, per student costs, student destinations in terms of employability, and other key economic features of non-profit /for-profit institutions vis-à-vis public institutions. The latter part of the paper analyses several emerging issues in higher education as the country meets the challenge for global competitiveness. Pertinent to this paper’s analysis is Levin’s comprehensive criteria on evaluating privatization, namely: choice, competition, equity and efficiency.
An Interview with Milton Friedman on Education, WP-067, 2003
Professor Pearl Kane interviews Professor Milton Friedman about education privatization. Professor Friedman proposed education vouchers in his book Capitalism and Freedom , published in 1962. He has been an energetic advocate of vouchers and freedom of choice in schooling.
Capitalization under School Choice Programs: Are the Winners Really the Losers?, WP-066, 2003
This paper examines the capitalization effects of public school choice programs. Under an inter-district open enrollment program, one would expect changes in local property values caused by the weakening of local monopolies for the provision of free schooling. Using data from Minnesota, I find that property tax bases decline in desirable districts that accept transfer students, whereas property tax bases increase in districts where students are able to transfer to preferred districts. The capitalization effects are of sufficient magnitude that a district losing students because of transferring may not actually lose much financially, or may even have a moderate gain, as a result of school choice. The converse is true for a district gaining transfer students. These effects may undermine attempts to use a school choice program as a means of financially punishing or rewarding districts based on preexisting differences in popularity.
Another Look at the New York City School Voucher Experiment, WP-065, 2003
This paper reexamines data from the New York City school choice program, the largest and best implemented private school scholarship experiment yet conducted. In the experiment, low-income public school students in grades K-4 were eligible to participate in a series of lotteries for a private school scholarship. Data were collected from students and their parents at baseline, and in the Spring of each of the next three years. Students with missing baseline test scores, which encompasses all those who were initially in Kindergarten and 11 percent of those initially in grades 1-4, were excluded from previous analysis of achievement, even though these students were tested in the follow-up years. In principle, random assignment would be expected to lead treatment status to be uncorrelated with all baseline characteristics. Including students with missing baseline test scores increases the sample size by 44 percent. For African American students, the only group to show a significant, positive effect of vouchers on achievement in past studies, the difference in average follow-up test scores between the treatment group (those offered a voucher) and control group (those not offered a voucher) becomes statistically insignificant at the 0.05 level and much smaller if the full sample is used. In addition, the effect of vouchers is found to be sensitive to the particular way race/ethnicity is defined. Previously, race was assigned according to the racial/ethnic category of the child's mother. If children with a Black (non-Hispanic) father are added to the sample of children with a Black (non-Hispanic) mother, the effect of vouchers is smaller and statistically insignificant at conventional levels.
Home Schooling: School Choice and Women's Time Use, WP-064, 2003
Home schooling has grown rapidly and now comprises over two percent of school children. I model home schooling choice using household-level data from the 1996 and 1999 National Household Education Survey and, in a separate model, district-level data from Wisconsin. For families living in metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), the likelihood of home schooling for high-income parents increases as academic school quality decreases; for low-income parents, as the percentage of school funds spent at the local level decreases. Outside MSAs, home schooling is popular among evangelical Protestants, although through peer effects or political influence the elasticity of home schooling demand with respect to the local percentage of evangelical Protestants decreases globally. Household characteristics are also important. The likelihood of home schooling increases when a mother’s time budget is expanded by extra members of the household. The presence of a husband contributes strongly to the likelihood of home schooling outside MSAs, but inside MSAs married couples exiting the public school system have a greater tendency to substitute to private schools. Despite paying a higher implicit tuition, highly educated women are more likely to home school younger children. Their children tend to return to school in later grades.
Should the curriculum be set by state fiat? An empirical test using Economics courses in High School, WP-063, 2003
This paper estimates the effect of state-imposed curriculum mandates on the test scores of public school students who took the SAT in 2001. By 1998, 14 states across the U.S. had mandates that high school students should take an Economics course. For these states, the proportions of public schools students taking High School Economics was around twice that compared to those in states without mandates. The mandate may be interpreted as a regulation on input use in the education sector, potentially impairing the efficiency of schools. Where there is a mandate, test scores should be lower, even though other purposes may be served by a mandate. Using a range of estimation techniques, students who are mandated to take Economics post substantially lower SAT scores. The mandate reduces test scores by as much as 0.25 standard deviations for those students who would not otherwise have enrolled. Such effects are not found for three other subjects: French, German, and Biology.
The Characteristics of Home-Schoolers: New Evidence from High Schools, WP-062, 2003
This note describes the personal and family background characteristics of home-schoolers in the US, and compares them to students in public and private schools. We find strong religiosity amongst home-schoolers, and family characteristics which are in the middle of the distribution (of income and education).
What Does the Supreme Court Ruling Mean for School Superintendents?, WP-061, 2003
This short note reviews the possibilities of voucher programs, in light of the US Supreme Court ruling of June 2002.
Recentralizing Decentralization? Educational Management Organizations and Charter Schools’ Educational Programs, WP-060, 2003
Charter schools are the most decentralized form of recent reforms granting publicschools greater autonomy, with decision-making around issues such as hiring, budget,mission and educational program shifted to the school site. However, the growth ofeducational management organizations (EMOs) that operate charter schools has raisedthe possibility of a change in charter school autonomy. EMOs, with corporate staffsoutside the school building making decisions for individual schools, create a new,potentially centralizing force in this highly decentralized reform effort. The growinginvolvement of EMOs is a critical part of the charter school landscape and hassignificant potential implications for the operation of charter schools as autonomousorganizations with site-based decision-making. However, the implications of thesecompanies and their work with charter schools extends to public education more broadlyand to the role of government in funding versus providing education. Privatization ofpublicly-funded education – especially privately-operated public schools – has receivedincreasing attention in recent years, with the most visible case being the 2001 statetakeover of the Philadelphia public schools and the resulting “multiple provider model”adopted by the city (which involves management of some schools by for-profitcompanies, community-based organizations, and universities). Attention to for-profiteducational management organizations that operate whole schools is likely to increasein the coming years, since private management is one of the options for continually“failing” schools in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002. This paper examines how theoperation of charter schools by “comprehensive management” EMOs influences thedecentralized nature of these schools, particularly in the area of educational issues.
Private Education Provision and Public Finance: The Netherlands as a Possible Model, WP-059, 2002
One of the key features of the Dutch education system is freedom of education. That is, the freedom to found schools, to organize the teaching in schools, and to determine the principles on which they are based. Almost 70 percent of schools in the Netherlands are administered and governed by private school boards, and public and private schools are government funded on an equal footing. This allows school choice. Most parents can choose among several schools and there are no catchment areas. Some schools have developed a unique profile. Government policy requires schools to disseminate information to the public. Yet, debate has focused on how market forces can make the system more efficient and equitable, and less regulated. The school choice system found in the Netherlands is made possible by the system of finance.
Preserving Religious Values through Education: Economic Analysis and Evidence for the US, WP-058, 2002
This paper describes how religious minority groups preserve their religious values and their group identity through education. Parents in religious minority groups who want to transmit their religious values to their children send them to religious private schools to shelter them from outside influences. However, when their share in the population grows, outside influences are less threatening, and therefore, their desire for religious private schools decreases. We bring empirical evidence across all US states and counties to support this theory. Our findings contribute to an understanding of the demand structure for religious schooling and the means by which religious minorities preserve their identity.
The Political Economy of School Choice: Linking Theory and Evidence, WP-057, 2002
We derive an improved methodology for linking theoretical parameters of a political economy model of school choice to empirical values estimated by regressing local private enrolment shares on mean income, the median to mean ratio, religious and ethnic composition, and other variables. This leads us to reject the commonly maintained assumption that a coalition of “ends against the middle” determines local school funding, and to conclude instead that the median income voter is decisive. It also allows us to estimate the perceived relative efficiency advantage of private schooling, which we find to be about 30% at the margin.
Homeowners, Property Values, and the Political Economy of the School Voucher, WP-056, 2002
A school voucher would decrease property values in neighborhoods with good public schools and increase property values in neighborhoods with inferior public schools. These potential gains and losses may influence voting on voucher initiatives, particularly for homeowners without school children. This paper examines that possibility, using a survey of potential voters on California's 2000 voucher initiative. We find evidence that homeowners voted to protect their property values. For homeowners without school children, the probability of voting for the voucher was 39 percent if they lived in neighborhoods with good public schools and 56 percent if they lived in neighborhoods with inferior schools.
Mr Jefferson’s “Private” College: The University of Virginia's Business School Secedes, WP-055, 2002
<Now published in (2002) Public-Interest, 148, 70-84>
This paper describes the path toward privatization of the business school at the University of Virginia. “In its eagerness to enter the top ranks of business schools, Darden [Graduate School of Business Administration] has made the pursuit of money its main objective. In doing so, it has de-emphasized research; faculty energy that elsewhere would be devoted to scholarship and theory are devoted to topics that are dictated by the needs of executive education. Still, by the conventional indices of success, the strategy has worked brilliantly, as the school’s dramatic rise in the Business Week rankings attests… It seems that Darden embodies the future—and what works for business schools can be adapted to other units of the university, especially the professional schools… So too for the “state-located” University of Virginia—the temptation to privatize has led UVA farther from being a university with a mission—speaking truth to power—and closer to being a holding company. In the short term, that approach has been a great success. Charlottesville is home to UVA Inc., a great money-making engine. It is an institution in which, as in the classic market, the public interest is regarded as no more than the sum of the stakeholders’ interests.”
An Economic Case against Vouchers: Why Local Schools are a Local Public Good, WP-054, 2002
Statewide voucher plans are consistently rejected in plebiscites. This article explains voters’ attachment to public education despite the schools’ deficiencies: The public benefit of local schools accrues to parents, not children. Having children in a local school enables adults to get to know other adults better, which in turn reduces the transaction costs of citizen provision of true local public goods. This network of adult acquaintances within the municipality is “community-specific social capital.” Vouchers would disperse students from their communities and thereby reduce the communal capital of residents. Voters' implicit understanding of this causes them to reject large-scale voucher plans.
The Religious Factor in Education, WP-053, 2002
This paper quantifies the religious factor in education demand by calibrating a political economy model of education finance and school choice in which parents who differ in the advantage they attribute to religious education choose from among public, private-nonsectarian and religious schools. The calibrated distribution of religious preferences indicates that the revealed advantage of religious education is strongly contingent on its high levels of subsidization. The results of the calibration are applied to compare the effect of publicly funded vouchers that do not exclude religious schools—to which the Supreme Court recently opened a door in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris—with vouchers restricted to nonsectarian schools. It supports the implicit conclusion of the Court, that participation of religious schools in the Cleveland voucher program was essential for achieving its goal of helping low-income parents in a failing school district. Larger vouchers would have reduced the share of religious schools in the program, though they would still have attracted a majority of students.
The US Supreme Court's Decision in Cleveland: Where to from Here?, WP-051, 2002
This paper discusses the legal implications of Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, the Supreme Court ruling on education vouchers. With a ruling in favor, the green light is now on for the development of voucher programs elsewhere. But, the green light shines only from the perspective of the federal constitution. The Supreme Court’s decision does not abrogate the application of restrictive provisions in state constitutions to publicly funded voucher and tax benefit programs, nor does it restrict a state from imposing reasonable regulations on participating private schools. As argued here, these state constitutions need to be carefully understood before anticipating more education voucher programs. As a comparison, the legal status of tuition tax credits is also considered. These credits appear to have the edge over vouchers in several key respects.
Does the Supreme Court Decision on Vouchers Really Matter for Education Reform?, WP-050, 2002
In this note, we review the Supreme Court opinion of June 2002 in Zelman et al. v. Simmons-Harris et al., 00-1751). In the first section, we offer an interpretation of the ruling in terms of four evaluative criteria: freedom of choice, productive efficiency, equity, and social cohesion. Unsurprisingly, the opinion strongly emphasized parental freedom of choice over the other criteria. In the second section, we consider whether the Supreme Court ruling represents a major victory for voucher advocates and whether it will have a substantial impact in improving America's schools. Our discussion takes a rather skeptical position, and we offer eight justifications for such a view.
Modeling School Choice: A Comparison of Public, Private–Independent, Private–Religious and Home-Schooled Students, WP-049, 2002
US students now have four choices of schooling: public schooling, private–religious schooling, private–independent schooling, and home-schooling. Of these, home-schooling is the most novel: since legalization across the states in the last few decades, it has grown in importance and legitimacy as an alternative choice. Thus, it is now possible to investigate the motivation for home-schooling, relative to the other schooling options. Here, we use two recent large-scale datasets to assess the school enrollment decision: the first is the National Household Expenditure Survey (1999), and the second is micro-data on SAT test-takers in 2001. We find that, generally, families with home-schoolers have similar characteristics to those with children at other types of school, but mother’s characteristics – specifically, her employment status – have a strong influence on the decision to home-school. Plausibly, religious belief has an important influence on the schooling decision, not only for Catholic students, but also those of other faiths.
Understudied Education: Toward Building A Home-schooling Research Agenda, WP-048, 2002
"Beginning with a brief history of homeschooling in America, I discuss literature describing today’s population of homeschoolers. Although older, the binary typology offered by Van Galen (1987, 1991) to categorize the motivations of homeschoolers is still utilized in much of the homeschooling literature. She breaks homeschoolers into two basic groups: the ideologues, who have ideological conflicts with schools, and the pedagogues, who dislike the pedagogy employed in traditional forms of education. Using Van Galen’s rubric as a starting point, I consider existing research about the characteristics and motivations of homeschoolers. Although this extant research is quite limited, it nonetheless highlights the need for an expanded framework. To this end, I offer my own suggestions for a slightly more detailed typology, arising out of my own homeschooling research. I conclude with a brief sampling of the types of knowledge and insight that homeschooling research may offer concerning the strengths, weakness, and future of American schooling."
The Potential of For-Profit Schools for Educational Reform, WP-047, 2002
The rise of a for-profit industry in elementary and secondary schools is a relatively recent phenomenon in American education. In the past, a small number of independent schools–probably 2 percent or less–were for-profit endeavors, usually owned by a family or a small group of educators. However, over the last decade a group of for-profit firms has emerged with the goal of managing public schools on a contract basis. These firms have established contracts with both charter schools and public school districts. In exchange for a per-student fee (often the average per-student expenditure in a district or the amount of charter school reimbursement from the state), they will manage both the logistical and instructional aspects of the school. These firms can be analyzed according to their ability: (1) to be adequately profitable to attract capital; and (2) to improve education and initiate reforms in their schools, and stimulate reform in other schools that face competition from them or wish to emulate them. This paper suggests that the ability of EMO’s to be profitable is, at best, problematic. Although spokespersons for almost all EMO’s suggest that it is only a matter of gaining more schools to reach economies of scale, the evidence on scale economies in education is at odds with this claim. A combination of high cost structures at central headquarters and the need for major marketing activities are also major challenges. In addition, education is a much tougher business than many of the EMO’s anticipated because of the many-layers of political scrutiny and the ability of charter school sponsors and school districts to cancel term contracts after relative short periods. On the basis of existing evidence we have not yet seen substantial innovation in instruction by for-profit EMO’s, although we have seen some logistical advantages in school organization.
Post-compulsory Entitlements: Vouchers for Life-long Learning, WP-046, 2002
Educational vouchers in the form of post-compulsory entitlements (PCE's) are proposed as a method for financing life-long learning. These entitlements would be provided to all persons after they complete compulsory education and could be used for a wide variety of approved education and training options. PCE's would be composed of both grants and income-contingent loans, the latter payable from the higher incomes generated by education and training investments. It is argued that the comprehensiveness and flexibility of the entitlement mechanism would improve both equity and efficiency of education and training. Issues of finance, regulation, and support services are discussed as well as the contention that the GI Bill for Veterans' Educational Benefits provides a useful historical experience for considering PCE's.
Exploring the Democratic Tensions within Parents’ Decisions to Homeschool, WP-045, 2002
When homeschooling parents discuss public schools, they often draw on their own notions of citizenship and each parent’s view of public schools is also likely influenced by his or her larger view of government’s proper role in society. I recently completed a three-year study designed to seek a better understanding of these issues. In particular, I explored homeschoolers’ interactions with broader social institutions – especially public schools – and I examined the relationship between parents’ homeschooling decisions and their notions of democracy. This investigation brought to light several tensions reflective of larger conflicts faced by Americans. In a pluralistic society it is very difficult, if not impossible, to arrive at educational policies that are acceptable to all involved or that fully meet the needs of all students and families. It is often equally difficult for parents to steadfastly match their private decision-making to their public vision of schooling.
Families as Contractual Partners in Education, WP-044, 2002
<Now published in (2002) UCLA Law Review, 49(6), 1799-1824>
The educational achievements of the young depend both on family and school, but are much more dependent on the former than the latter. Educational policy has established an extensive set of legal and contractual obligations for schools. In contrast, the only contractual obligation for families is to meet compulsory education requirements. The establishment of “performance expectations” or “contracts” between families and society may be an effective way to enhance educational outcomes, if family capacity is augmented to succeed in meeting these provisions. This paper investigates the need for, feasibility of, and possible content of such “performance expectations” by suggesting the construction of metaphorical contracts for families to provide for the education of their children. We begin by documenting the overwhelming ties between socio-economic status (SES) and student educational results. We then look at the research literature on what families do that improves educational results for their children – that is, what is it that SES reflects? Next, we consider what a comprehensive family contract that embodied these behaviors would look like. Finally, we add greater specificity to such a family contract by asking: (a) What can families do on their own if properly informed, even low-income families? (b) What can families do with training, and support? (c) What gaps in the contract must be filled by other service providers? Answers to these questions are important for education reforms that – within the context of privatization – seek to capitalize on parental efforts and energies.
When Schools Compete, How Do They Compete?, WP-043, 2002
In 1981, Chile introduced nationwide school choice by providing vouchers to any student wishing to attend private school. As a result, more than 1000 private schools entered the market, and the private enrollment rate increased by 20 percentage points, with greater impacts in larger, more urban, and wealthier communities. Using differences across roughly 300 municipalities, we show that the first-order effect of this program was increased sorting, as the "best" public school students switched to the private sector. We use a simple model to make the more general point that if choice leads to sorting, then one cannot determine its impact on achievement solely by assessing whether public schools improve in response to competition, or by measuring whether students benefit from attending private schools. Rather, one has to look at changes in aggregate outcomes in entire educational markets. Finally, using test scores, repetition rates, and grade for age as measures of achievement, we find no evidence that the large reallocation of students from public to private schools improved educational performance in Chile.
Voting on Vouchers: A Socio-Political Analysis of California Proposition 38, Fall 2000, WP-042, 2002
This paper analyzes the results of the votes in the referendum in California regarding Proposition 38 in the November 2000 election. This Proposition offered voters the option of replacing the current education financing system with a system of vouchers, eligible at any school. The Proposition was easily defeated, but the pattern of votes across zip codes indicated varying support for the idea of vouchers. Using county voting data and an exit poll of voters, this paper estimates the main determinants of support for, and opposition to, the idea of education vouchers. Counties with higher representations of Republicans, with higher SES, and with lower densities of African American and Hispanic voters were more likely to favor of vouchers. In their reasons for voting for Proposition 38, voters emphasized their own family circumstances – whether or not their children were in private school, the importance of competition, and the notion of freedom of choice outside of government.
Student Academic Achievement in Charter Schools: What We Know and Why We Know So Little, WP-041, 2002
Student achievement is central to the policy debate over charter schools. This paper revies what is currently known about charter schools' impact on student achievement. After documenting the surprising dearth of systematic empirical studies on the topic, the paper combines the findings of existing research into an overall impact rating, weighted by the studies' methodological quality. We find that the existing body of research reveals a mixed picture, with studies from some states suggesting a positive impact, studies from other states suggesting negative impact, and some providing evidence of positive and negative impacts. Overall, the charter impact on student achievement appears to be mixed or very slightly positive. However, this conclusion is tempered by the fact that there are , as yet, no systematic studies of charter school achievement in several states that have large numbers of charter schools. The paper concludes by offering some preliminary explanations for variations in charter performance across the states and for the paucity of empirical evidence in many states.
Charter Schools in California, Michigan and Arizona: An Alternative Framework for Policy Analysis, WP-040, 2002
This paper uses the charter schools legislation of three states, California, Arizona and Michigan, as a lens to understand the policy values embodied in the laws. We question the prevailing rubrics of the Center for Education Reform and the American Federation of Teachers. Briefly stated, the former ranks laws as either “strong” or “weak” and the latter identifies laws as either “good” or “bad.” We examine the legislation in light of an alternative framework. Specifically, we consider how the laws incorporate productive efficiency, choice, social cohesion and equity into the policy tools provided. We find that this framework for policy analysis is much more dynamic than current, normative frameworks that pervade charter school research. Though we call for more research at the local charter school level to understand the connection between legislation and implementation, this framework enables observers to move beyond unexamined, value-laden descriptors. Instead, researchers should consider the ways in which the diversity of charter school laws contributes to the array of implementation options in each state.
Institutionalist and Instrumentalist Perspectives on “Public” Education: Strategies and Implications of the School Choice Movement in Michigan, WP-039, 2002
This paper examines school choice reforms in one key state, within the broader context of public education and privatization. Choice advocates describe the public nature of charter schools in terms of access, funding, choice and effects. Critics see charter schools as precursors to more market-based reforms such as vouchers. In reviewing the strategies and agendas of choice proponents in Michigan, this analysis distinguishes between two competing views of “public” education. While institutionalists focus on organizational arrangements such as ownership, processes, and governance, instrumentalists point to the service that agencies provide in imparting academic skills as part of a mass education system. In this case, policymakers promoting the reforms embraced the instrumentalist approach in advancing charter schools as an initial step toward a voucher-style system. They attacked state provision, portraying charters as apolitical alternatives that blur popularly held public-private distinctions in reconfiguring the concept of public schooling — to include any agency serving an academic mission. This analysis concludes by discussing the implications of this instrumentalist view, noting that schools are not privatized in form, but in essence. The purposes driving education are commodified as private goods for those pursuing education services, albeit in a nominally public system.
An Overview of Private Education Development in Modern China, WP-038, 2002
<Now published in (2002) Education Policy Analysis Archives , 10(47).Retrieved [date] from http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v10n47/ >
It is not surprising that private education is gaining importance in China, given the overall context of huge national efforts toward building up a “socialist market economy”. However, the fast growth rate in both the quantities and the qualities of profitable private schools in a socialist society has exceeded expectations. This paper looks into the modern history of private education in China and finds that such a huge resurgence of private education is rooted in the heritage of private education in Chinese society. Private schools were the precursor of modern Chinese education and they played an important role in the country for a long period before 1949. When the government policy became more flexible and household income increased substantially, such a heritage was revived and became a stimulating factor for the private education sector.
How Effective Are Private Schools in Latin America?, WP-037, 2002
Using multilevel modelling and data from 10 Latin American countries, this paper provides new evidence on the relative effectiveness of public and private schools. There are substantial differences in the achievement of private and public schools, usually around one-half of one standard deviation. A small portion of these differences is accounted for by the higher socioeconomic status of students in private schools. A quite substantial portion is explained by the varying peer group characteristics in private and public schools. After accounting for peer group characteristics, the average private school effect across all 10 countries is zero, though with some variance around this mean (the effects range between -0.2 and 0.2 standard deviations). Evidence on selection bias is inconclusive, but the paper argues that these effects may constitute an upper bound to the true effects.
Private Education: Funding and (De)regulation in Argentina, WP-036, 2002
This paper on the education system in Argentina has two aims: (a) to provide a brief summary of the most outstanding milestones of educational privatization; and (b) to review some of the most significant features of the demand and supply of private education. First, we give a quantitative description of the private education sector and the relevant policies over the previous last fifty years. Second, we analyze the two instruments that relate the State and private schools at a local level: public funding of private establishments, and the functional regulations. Finally, we evaluate the sector using four criteria of freedom of choice, efficiency, equity, and social cohesion.
The Effects of Competition on Educational Outcomes: A Review of the US Evidence, WP-035, 2001
<Now published in (2002) Review of Educational Research, 72(2), 279-341 >
This paper systematically reviews the cross-sectional research evidence on the effects of competition on educational outcomes. Competition is typically measured using either the Herfindahl Index or the enrollment rate at an alternative choice (e.g. private school). Outcomes are separated into those relating to academic test scores, graduation/attainment, expenditures/efficiency, teacher quality, wages, and house prices. The sampling strategy identifies over 35 empirical studies testing the effects of competition. A sizable majority of these studies report beneficial effects of competition across all outcomes, with many reporting statistically significant coefficients. The effect size of an increase of competition by one standard deviation is also reported. These effect sizes suggest positive gains from competition that are modest in scope with respect to feasible changes in levels of competition. Finally, this review notes some methodological challenges in estimating competitive pressures, as well as cautions on the validity of inference from point estimates to public policy.
An Analysis of Competition and Its Impact on Secondary School Examination Performance in England, WP-034, 2001
This paper reviews the concept of competiton. It argues that competition is an under-theorised concept, in terms of implicit assumptions: that the degree of competition is determined by market structure in terms of the number of schools in a local market or the degree of concentration; and that there is purely self-interested motivations on the part of school managers and teachers. There is also a black box treatment of the school processes which produce learning outcomes and how these respond to changes in the degree of competition. This paper undertakes a more finely-grained study of the nature of competition and its impact on school performance than would be possible by utilising only secondary data sources. Data on headteachers’ perceptions of competition were obtained by means of a postal survey and interviews. First, these data report on the relationships between behavioural and structural indicators of competition and the evidence supports the argument that in the schools market competitive behaviour is determined by other factors than market structure. Second, this paper tests whether competition has an impact on school performance: the results are mixed, being sensitive to the chosen measure of competition used and the measure of performance. Third, the value judgements of head teachers made about different forms of competitive behaviour are discussed. One can conclude from this evidence that schools do respond positively to pressures to improve in relation to a particularly well publicised performance indicator, especially when these are reinforced by the presence of a greater number of perceived competitors. However, this only serves to emphasise the importance of choosing the right indicator in the first place.
Tuition Tax Credits: What Do We Know So Far?, WP-033, 2001
This paper reviews the economics of tuition tax credits (TTCs). Such tax credits can be described in terms of ‘finance’ and ‘regulation’. There are few economic studies of tax credits, but they stress two questions: (A) What is the loss/gain in revenues to the state? (B) Who benefits? There is some evidence on both these questions, and the evidence in the main points to the following answers: (a) state revenues fall; (b) those who already have children in private schools are the largest group of beneficiaries. This paper also looks at how to evaluate TTCs using a comprehensive framework.
The Effects of Catholic Schools on Religiosity, Education, and Competition, WP-032, 2001
Four criteria that have been suggested to evaluate the effects of private schooling and education vouchers are: (1) freedom of choice, (2) productive efficiency, (3) equity, and (4) social cohesion. This study uses these criteria to evaluate some of the effects of Catholic schooling in the United States. Catholic schools are shown to increase the ability of Catholic families to promote Catholic values and beliefs. That is, Catholic schools increase the ability of Catholic families to provide a faith-based education for their children. The effect of Catholic schools on productive efficiency is mixed. Data from Illinois suggest that private school competition does not improve the quality of public schooling. Further, national data indicate that Catholic schools at best only have modest positive effects on educational outcomes for white students. However, Catholic schools seem to have significant and substantial positive effects on educational outcomes for black and Hispanic students. For this reason, Catholic schools have favorable effects on equity.
Can Public Policy Affect Private School Cream-Skimming?, WP-031, 2001
<Now published in (2001) Journal of Urban Economics, 49 (2), 240-266>
We investigate how key school and community characteristics interact with the characteristics of individual students and families in determining the enrollment patterns in public and private schools. Using unique, nationally-representative, individual-level data, we find evidence that a number of factors plausibly influenced by public policy (e.g., school-district concentration, student-teacher ratios, and local violent crime rates) have powerful effects on the composition of public and private schools.
Sex, Drugs, and Catholic Schools: Private Schooling and Non-Market Adolescent Behaviors, WP-030, 2001
<Now published in NBER working paper 7990>
This paper examines the effects of private schooling on adolescent non-market behaviors. We control for differences between private and public school students by making use of the rich set of covariates available with our NELS micro-dataset. We also employ an instrumental-variables strategy that exploits variation across metropolitan areas in the costs that parents face in transporting their children to private schools, which stem from differences in the quality of the local transportation infrastructure. We find evidence to suggest that religious private schooling reduces teen sexual activity, arrests, and use of hard drugs (cocaine), but not drinking, smoking, gang involvement, or marijuana use.
What's in a Grade? School Report Cards and House Prices, WP-029, 2001
<Now published in NBER working paper 8019>
Throughout the last decade, many states around the country have begun making public student test scores or other evaluative measures of school quality available to the general public. The most recent trends in state policies under consideration, already enacted in Florida and a major component of George W. Bush's education platform, involve the assignment of letter grades to rate school quality. Because school quality is one of a group of local public goods purchased along with a house, one would anticipate that additional information about school quality would capitalize into real estate values. This paper takes the first look at the role that this type of added information plays in the capitalization of school quality measures. We use rich student test score and housing value data from a Florida school district, one of the nation's 200 largest, to directly investigate this link. Using data on repeated sales of properties before and after the assignment of school letter grades, we find significant evidence that arbitrary distinctions embedded in school report cards lead to major housing price effects.
The Economics of Education on Judgment Day, WP-028, 2001
<Now published in (2002) Journal of Education Finance, 28(2), 183-205>
As an applied discipline based on evidence and guided by economic principles, the ultimate aims of the Economics of Education should be to influence outside opinion and shape policy. In a major court case based heavily on the Economics of Education, we can see how this knowledge-base was interpreted by the New York Supreme Court on public school funding in Campaign for Fiscal Equity versus The State of New York (2001). In this highly-praised ruling, known as the DeGrasse decision, the Court drew heavily on research evidence, along with direct testimony from noted academic economists and educationalists. Yet the Court also challenged this evidence and testimony, on both empirical and methodological grounds. The ruling therefore reflects a considered ‘outside opinion’, and one made by an agency – the judiciary – with substantial influence both on policy and on the views of society at large. This article reviews the economic content of the ruling, i.e. what the courts think about the Economics of Education. We also consider whether the benefits of court-mediated policies exceed the costs, i.e. whether Economists should view the courts as a good way of influencing policy.
The Relationship between Private Schooling and Earnings: A Review of the Evidence for the US and the UK, WP-027, 2001
Despite the strategic importance of the private school sector to education policy reform, and a general belief in the superiority of private schools, there is very little evidence on the relative effects of such schooling over public schools. This paper reviews the current evidence in the US and the UK on the relationship between private school attendance and earnings. The effects of private schooling on future earnings are important for the equity and efficiency of education systems, arguably more so than any effects on test scores. Yet, the review uncovers only four studies of this relationship for the US, and eleven studies for the UK. These show a reasonably robust correlation between higher earnings and private schooling, but a summary of the private schooling earnings premium cannot be easily identified. The available evidence varies across estimation techniques, and probably fails to include the full set of direct and indirect effects of private schooling on earnings. However, from simulations of the earnings premium, we calculate the rate of return to investment in private schooling over public schooling. This rate of return - including the direct and indirect effects of private schooling - is modest, at around 3% for the US and 5% for the UK
The Relationship of Competition and Choice to Innovation in Education Markets:A Review of Research on Four Cases, WP-026, 2001
This paper looks at innovation in school choice programs-appraising this presumed causal relationship between market mechanisms and innovation in two ways. First, the analysis reviews market-oriented school reforms in four systems (New Zealand, Chile, England and Wales, and North America), examining how competition and choice foster innovation in education. These systems include publicly funded and privately administered schools, schools run by corporations, newly autonomous established schools, and new schools created to be free of bureaucratic constraints in order to develop innovative practices. This review indicates that, despite widely held assumptions about the power of markets, hypothetical predictions about competition and choice are largely unfulfilled in practice. In fact, interventions by public bureaucracies have often succeeded in encouraging classroom innovations, while market mechanisms appear to contribute to standardization. Second, this paper engages in an interpretive exploration of the logic of markets-particularly as they are applied to education. Insofar as reformers refer to markets for consumer goods as appropriate models for education, this paper examines the logic of such markets, as well as the logic of quasi-markets in education. In fact, while competitive environments often serve as catalysts for innovative practices, competition and choice can also lead toward emulation and standardization-trends that are missed in simplistic portrayals of markets. A more complex view of markets indicates no simple, direct, or immediate causal relationship between the choice/competition dynamic and educational innovation-thereby problematizing easy assumptions about encouraging innovation in classrooms.
Markets in the Provision of Lifetime Learning: Evidence from the United Kingdom, WP-025, 2001
Post-compulsory lifetime learning has been the subject of substantial social, political and cultural investigation, but it has received little attention from economists. This is surprising because this sector operates in more market-like environments than schools; quality of provision is therefore anticipated to depend on the market structure. Using a large-scale survey of providers of lifetime learning, this paper relates the quality of provision to economic notions of competition, ownership and fee pricing. Across a range of proxies for education quality, we find that: (1) market forces are positively correlated to quality; (2) there are significant differences across ownership status, yet no ownership structure appears superior; and (3) direct tuition fee pricing is positively correlated with quality. The first result is anticipated, being consistent with the substantial extant evidence base. The second result is perhaps more surprising, although here the evidence base (and theory) is much less clear-cut. The third result is not only of particular interest, insofar as direct financing (and student voice) may be an important channel for quality improvements, but also novel, in having received little empirical inquiry.
Reasons for school choice in the Netherlands and Finland, WP-024, 2001
Current educational reforms encompass increasing freedom of parental choice. As such, parental choice is seen as a stimulus for school improvement and quality control of schools. Giving parents more say in the choice of a school for their child is said to empower them and to enhance the role of market mechanism in the educational system. One of the central thoughts behind freedom of parental choice is that the quality of education will increase when the educational system has to act like a market, in which the principle of 'demand and supply' prevails and where competition becomes a major feature of the educational system. In this study, we will focus on the relative importance of several reasons for school choice of parents. Moreover, we will try to give insight in the way reasons for school choice are imbedded within cultural contexts. We will discuss differences within countries, as well as between countries. For this study, data are gathered regarding reasons for school choice of 244 Dutch and 244 Finnish parents. In this study, it is shown that people from both countries hold an emphasis of schools on social education as a leading reason for choosing a school and that an emphasis on achievements and religious values are seen as the least important reasons for choosing a school. Consequence of the results of this study might be that in marketing schools, more emphasis may be laid on social aspects of education and less, as is currently the case, on academic achievements. In conclusion, we state that research on reasons for school choice should pay more attention to social factors influencing school choice than to issues of academic achievements.
International Experience with Demand-led Financing: Education Vouchers in the USA, Great Britain and Chile, WP-023, 2001
This paper reviews the research evidence on vouchers and considers the factors that make education vouchers a "live issue" in US education policy. These factors can be articulated in terms of Levin's (2000a) notions of freedom of choice, productive efficiency, equity and social cohesion. It is possible to construct a reasonable case for voucher reform based on economic principles, triangulated evidence, and the absence of a strong set of counter-arguments. However, it is equally plausible to reject this case after considering the principles, evidence and counter-arguments more closely. Moreover, voucher schemes are a trivial component of US schooling, with some ambivalence on both the Right and the Left, and no popular mandate. Hence, vouchers are not a "live issue": there is lots of discussion, but not much action. Nonetheless, voucher schemes are part of a general trend towards liberalization of supply and demand of education. This trend includes a range of policy initiatives, including greater competition, greater accountability, and more contract schooling. A new example of this trend is tuition tax credits: evaluating these credits may be even more complicated and politically charged than for voucher schemes.
Education Management Organizations and the Privatization of Public Education: A Cross-National Comparison of the USA and the UK, WP-022, 2001
This paper compares the development since the 1980s of privatization of education services in the US and the UK. In both countries Education Management Organizations have become institutionalized to some degree, with policy borrowing between the two countries and a common ideological predisposition toward market solutions. Despite this history, privatization remains small-scale and not especially lucrative to those entering the market. In the UK, the emphasis has been on Compulsory Competitive Tendering and the Private Finance Initiative: public sector structures to aid privatization within a governmental system. The result is privatization at 'glacial speed', with few opportunities for EMOs. In the US, it is the creation of capital markets and the roll-out of charter schooling which have sustained privatization - the activities of companies such as Edison and TesseracT are considered. Capital market growth and charter schooling represent much more general alternatives to public provision.
What Do Parents Want From Schools? Evidence from the Internet, WP-021, 2001
<Now published in (2002) Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 24(2), 133-144>
One of the most contentious policy areas in the United States today is the expansion of school choice. While many dimensions of parental choice behavior have been analyzed, perhaps the most enduring questions center on the aspects of schools parents prefer and how these preferences will affect the socio-economic and racial composition of schools. Using Internet-based methodological tools, the authors study parental preferences revealed through information search patterns and compare these to the standard findings in the literature, which are based largely on telephone interviews. Based on this evidence the authors suggest that unfettered choice may lead to undesirable outcomes in the distribution of students, and it may also lead to reduced pressure on schools to improve academic performance. Updated Version: March 2002.
Private Schools as Public Provision for Education School Choice and Marketization in the Netherlands and Elsewhere in Europe, WP-020, 2001
In the international discussion about enlargement of parental choice and private deliverance of education, the Dutch arrangement is quite often regarded as a 'unique' system. This paper discuss the features of this Dutch arrangement as a variation of comparable arrangements within European Union, wherein parents can make a real choice between comparable schools, mostly between public and state-funded private schools, without paying very high school fees. Parental choice of a school for their children was one of the most important political topics in the 19th century continen-tal European societies. These struggles had more or less comparable results, with public and religious-subsidized school sectors offering parents a choice between schools of the same curriculum and usually under comparable financial costs for the parents. Despite the increasing irrelevance of church and religion in the everyday life of most late 20th century European societies, the religious schools in these societies did not dwindle away, nor in the Netherlands or elsewhere in Europe.
Decentralization and privativatization of education in El Salvador: assessing the experience, WP-019, 2001
This paper presents the most notorious decentralization and privatization policies of education delivery included in the 1995-2005 education reform plan and briefly explain some of the factors justifying their existence, potential success, and possible limitations. Based on existing evidence, it also examines the capacity of a privatization strategy, contracting not-for-profit parents' associations to administer schools financed by the state, to improve education in rural areas (The EDUCO program). The author concludes that decentralization and privatization policies have produced multiple results. In the search for a better education system, decentralization and privatization policies have not only given the Salvadoran government new ways to exert control over the education system but also added new problems and challenges. In the case of the EDUCO program, for instance, although it has successfully contributed to expanding education supply and promoting social cohesion, its impact on equity and the productive efficiency of schooling may not be like the one expected. Therefore, decentralization and privatization strategies, like any other policies, have had their pros and their cons. There may never be a perfect policy to solve satisfactorily all weaknesses within an education system; but education advocates and policymakers should always be committed to review existing practices and improve them.
Political Preferences and the Privatization of Education: Evidence from the UK, WP-018, 2001
This paper investigates the determinants of political support for the privatization of education in the UK. The electorate is assumed to apply cost-benefit calculations, depending on their circumstances; a set of criteria for evaluating educational reforms is linked to individual voters' characteristics. It is then possible to identify which voters would oppose or advocate educational reforms such as greater school competition, ability selection and promotion of private schooling. Support for these reforms is then estimated using the British Educational Panel Survey (1997). The results indicate that political preferences largely reflect the anticipated personal costs and benefits from educational reforms. Those with children are in favour of reforms to raise school competition; those working in the education sector are against such reform. Those with higher anticipated tax liabilities favour privatization and support private schooling. Overall, however, educational reforms toward privatization received only minority support in Britain as of 1997.
Educational Finance and School Choice in the United States and Canada, WP-017, 2001
Both U.S. states and Canadian provinces have moved to enhance educational choice within their educational systems in order to improve educational productivity. In spite of this similarity of purpose and means, the two nations are taking very different approaches. Most Canadian provinces have moved to full provincial financing of schools and to the allocation of school choice based on group rights assigned to French-speaking and English-speaking citizens. In contrast, U.S. states have decentralized authority via charter schools, vouchers or tax deductions, thereby enhancing individual rights. Both nations also have adopted federal and state/provincial assessment systems. Eventually, we may be able to assess the educational, financial and political success of two distinctive models, one driven by centralized institutions and the other by markets.
States and Markets: Competing Paradigms for the Reform of Higher Education in Europe, WP-016, 2001
The construct of the market is an interesting new element in the discourse on higher education in Europe. It has generated serious initiatives in deregulating higher education, in developing performance-based models of resource allocation, in fostering inter-institutional competition and efficient management structures, and even in considering the "privatization" of higher education. These developments affect particularly the financing of higher education, where new models of resource generation and allocation, institutional steering and controlling, and accountability are being explored. Within this context, and with a view towards the future of higher education in Europe, eight issues are being examined in more detail: The transition from line-item budgets to block grants, formula funding, the role of incentives, the mobilization of external resources, the introduction of tuition fees, the creation of private institutions, alternative strategies of steering and controlling, and the internal distribution of resources.
The Effect of Private School Competition on Public School Performance, WP-015, 2001
This paper investigates the effect of private school competition on public school performance. We present a simple theoretical model that shows the many linkages needed in order for increased competition to result in improved performance, and present reasons why those linkages might be weak or non-existence in reality. We improve on previously published work in that we can better control for the endogeneity between private school enrollment and public school performance. Multiple approaches provide very little evidence that current levels of private school competition increase public school performance in Georgia.
Thoughts on For-Profit Schools, WP-014, 2001
<Now published in (2001) Education Matters, 1(1), 6-15>
Although the theory of the market is succinct and well understood, we know little about how for-profit schools will operate in practice. This short paper considers why for-profit schooling has developed during the current period and not before; what are the main input differences between for-profit and public schooling; and how for-profit schools will have to attract students as clients. Given current evidence, the scope for efficiency gains appears limited - research has not identified substantial economies of scale in education and for-profit schools may have to devote more resources to marketing their provision rather than to provision of education.
The Long Term Impact of School Choice in the United Kingdom, WP-013, 2001
This paper summarizes the results on the relationship between school choice and social segregation in the UK. School choice was substantially increased in 1988, and the analysis is based on the entire UK student cohort and for every year between 1989 and 1999. A range of segregation measures were used, although the results are invariant to the index used. Socio-economic stratification in all secondary schools in England declined from a high of 36% in 1989 to around 30% by 1996, but rose to 32% by 1999. There is no evidence that within this decline in stratification, a subset of schools went into a 'spiral of decline'.
Workplaces in the Education Sector in the United Kingdom: How do they differ from those in other industries?, WP-012, 2001
<Now published in (2002) Education-Economics, 10(1), 49-69>
A significant body of literature suggests that enterprises in the public education sector may differ from 'standard production' market firms in important ways. Substantial government involvement is then legitimized. However, this literature often uses within-sector comparisons of school types, rather than cross-sector comparisons of the education sector with other sectors. This paper compares the structure of education enterprises and workplace practices with those in other industries, namely (the rest of) the public sector and the private sector. Key differences - particularly as regards staffing resources - between education providers and these other enterprises are identified from prior literature and then tested. Data from the UK Workplace Employee Relations Survey (1998) are used. Our findings show substantial differences in labor rewards and factor management in the education sector.
Private and Public Schooling in the Southern Cone: A comparative analysis of Argentina and Chile, WP-011, 2001
The countries of Argentina and Chile have long-standing policies that give public subsidies to private schools. In Argentina, the government funds the salaries of many teachers and principals in private schools. In Chile, the funding is directly tied to student enrollments, and school budgets are immediately penalized when students leave a private school. In many ways, the Chilean plan is similar to Milton Friedman's original voucher proposal. In this paper, I use 1997 data from Argentina and Chile to compare the academic outcomes of seventh- and eighth-graders in public and private schools. Three types of private schools are analyzed: Catholic schools that are subsidized by the government, non-religious schools that are subsidized, and private schools that receive no subsidies. The analyses suggest a mixed portrait of private school effectiveness. In both countries, Catholic subsidized schools are somewhat more effective than public schools in producing student outcomes, although these results are probably an upper bound to the true effects, due to selection bias. There are several explanations for these effects. In part, they may be due to the unique missions, policies, and resources that are characteristic of the Catholic sector (although empirical research to substantiate this is sparse). It may be less attributable to the "private" status of Catholic schools. In contrast, there are few differences in outcomes between public and non-religious subsidized schools in Chile (but this is not the case in Argentina). Enrollments in non-religious subsidized private schools are substantially larger in Chile. The diminished effectiveness of these schools in Chile may be due, in part, to their different objectives--placing greater emphasis on securing a margin of profit-or their different students. Again, however, existing research is not sufficient to explain why different types of private schools may produce different results.
Issues and Concerns in the Privatization and Outsourcing of Campus Services in Higher Education, WP-010, 2001
This paper presents an analysis of the issues and concerns of the concept of the privatization and outsourcing of campus services. Traditionally, colleges and universities have operated their own campus services providing goods and services to the institutional community as needed. Some services such as food service and bookstores were turned over to private companies, early on, to operate for the institution. A recent phenomenon has been occurring wherein colleges and universities have been turning to private service providers to operate more and more of their campus services. Although financial incentives appear to be the main reason colleges and universities are moving toward the privatization of campus services, other reasons can also be identified.
This paper examines why this phenomenon is occurring and the reasons higher education is so keenly interested in this concept. The paper reviews pressures to privatize; the current status of privatization in higher education; how the decision to privatize is made and what is involved before making that decision; what services are being privatized more than others; the importance of the relationship between the service provider and the institution; and, more generally, the issues involved in the privatization process itself.
School Choice in the People's Republic of China, WP-009, 2001
<Now published in (2003) Choosing choice: School choice in international perspective. New York, NY: Teachers College Press>
This is a paper is on the recent development in parental choice in basic education in the People's Republic of China (China). It has two major objectives. First, it attempts to explain the origin and inherent tension in school choice by relating the recent development to historical changes and the larger societal contexts in post-1949 China. Second, based on studies in both Chinese and English sources, it identifies emerging changes in basic education related to increased school choice. Particular attention is given to the unique characteristics of interventions in school choice in China, the development of different types of non-government schools as alternatives to government education, the effort to introduce innovation in school governance and school curriculum, and increased parental and community voice in schooling.
The paper is organized into five sections. The first section is an introduction to the subject; it explains what school choice means in China today. The second section explains why school choice has become an issue in urban China since the early 1990s. It highlights socio-economic development in Chinese society since 1978 and conflicting policies within the party-controlled State in post-1949 China. The discussion of the development of school choice and its impact is given in two sections: Section Three is a general overview of development in the country, and Section Four presents case studies in two major urban centers in China, Tianjin and Beijing. The last section is a summary; it also explores future development in school choice in China.
Funding for Private Schools in England and the Netherlands. Can the Piper Call the Tune?, WP-008, 2001
This paper examines the effects of public funding for religious and private schools in the Netherlands and England over the last century or more. These two countries are chosen because both have religious schools which are fully funded by the state and the netherlands, in particular, is often seen as providing an ideal environment in which private religious schools can flourish. The paper shows that state funding brings disadvantages as well as advantages, for funding has been associated with considerable, yet variable, state control and regulation over such aspects as curriculum, staffing, admissions criteria, inspection and governance. At various points in the past both governments have effected powerful shocks to the religious schools that have received funding, and there has also been a gradual increase in regulation - especially in the last decade. This increase in state regulation and control is such that there are now some religious schools in both countries which do not seek state funding but refer to remain dependent upon fees. The benefits of state funding are seen as being outweighed by the decrease in autonomy that the schools would undergo. A final twist, however, is that private schools not in receipt of state funding have also experienced increased state regulation at both the country and European levels. Furthermore, all schools have also been influenced by the growing public rhetoric of 'standards' and 'league tables' which has brought with it a growing pressure to conform to a narrow version of schooling. Diversity is being replaced by conformity.
Can Modern Information Technologies Cross the Digital Divide to Enhance Choice and Build Stronger Schools?, WP-007, 2001
The Internet is a revolution unfolding before our eyes. However, there is a concern that this revolution will increase class and racial differences, and that a new "digital divide" between information "haves" and information "have-nots" will exacerbate existing levels of inequality in American society. At the core of this paper is the examination of how the Internet has been tapped to deliver information about the schools in ways that (either explicitly or implicitly) try to cross the digital divide. First we look at several examples of web sites that are in fact trying to cross the digital divide, by presenting local information about the schools-a service of central importance to low income parents and communities. Second, we look at the problems with harnessing the Internet as a tool for doing research about the schools. Third, we illustrate some of these problems by analyzing patterns of usage of one of these web sites to see if actual usage shows patterns of inequality or expanded usage. We argue that the roots of the Internet as a commercial medium and as a means of supplying information to consumers have to date limited its role in creating better schools. In the final section of the paper, we look at the possibility of harnessing the Internet in a way that goes beyond the "consumer choice" model embodied in most current school-based sites to a much more expansive "citizen based" model of improving schools and, even more ambitiously, building stronger communities. We argue that present methods of employing the Internet as an information tool that treats parents as consumers of information are too timid. Instead, we argue for a much more ambitious use of the Internet's interactive and point-to-point capacities to create tools for building local communities and for training parents not to be only better consumers but also better citizens. And we argue that local schools provide a venue in which to tap these community-building possibilities.
Legal Issues Involving Educational Privatization And Accountability, WP-006, 2001
While the U.S. Supreme Court accords states considerable authority to regulate traditional private schools, accountability measures for the most part have been modest. Proponents of expanded educational privatization through sub-contracting, charter school, and publicly funded voucher programs hope to continue this hands-off approach. Opponents seek to impose many, if not most, of the same accountability measures that apply to traditional public schools. This paper explores the accountability issue from a legal perspective. First, the paper examines the considerable authority the state has to regulate all schools, whether public or private. Then, the paper focuses on constraints that state constitutions impose on the ability of the state to delegate its responsibility and funding for public education to private actors without accompanying accountability measures. Best labeled "unconstitutional delegation law," the doctrine is evident in the first charter school litigation to reach a state supreme court. Next the paper examines how privatization in corrections, the federal Section 8 public housing voucher program, and contracting out of special education services has affected the autonomy of private organizations. These analogies shed some light on possible future patterns in education. In addition to constitutions, accountability measures emanate from state statutes, administrative agency regulations, charters, and contracts.
A Comprehensive Framework For Evaluating Educational Vouchers, WP-005, 2001
<Now published in (2002) Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 24(3), 159-174>
Major policy debates have arisen around the subject of educational vouchers as an alternative for financing and organizing the educational system. To a large degree comparisons between vouchers and the traditional system of educational finance and school operations have been limited to one or two dimensions of education such as the
relative impact of a particular system on achievement test scores. This paper describes a comprehensive, evaluative framework that draws upon a larger range of goals that have been posed for education in a democratic and free society. These criteria include: (1) freedom of choice; (2) productive efficiency; (3) equity; and (4) social cohesion. The
framework demonstrates the importance of and tradeoffs among these four criteria in evaluating specific educational voucher plans and comparing them to other alternatives such as charter schools as well as the more traditional public school arrangement. The paper develops the concept of "advantage maps" for comparative purposes along with a
research agenda for developing fully this approach to evaluation.
The Effect of Charter Schools on Charter Students and Public Schools, WP-004, 2001
This paper estimates the effect of charter schools on both students attending them and students at neighboring public schools. Using school-level data from Michigan's standardized testing program, I compare changes in test scores between charter and public school students. I find that test scores of charter school students do not improve, and may actually decline, relative to those of public school students. The paper also exploits exogenous variation created by Michigan's charter law to identify the effects of charter schools on public schools. The results suggest that charter schools have had little or no effect on test scores in neighboring public schools.
The Effect of Charter Schools on Charter Students and Public Schools, WP-004, 2001
This paper estimates the effect of charter schools on both students attending them and students at neighboring public schools. Using school-level data from Michigan's standardized testing program, I compare changes in test scores between charter and public school students. I find that test scores of charter school students do not improve, and may actually decline, relative to those of public school students. The paper also exploits exogenous variation created by Michigan's charter law to identify the effects of charter schools on public schools. The results suggest that charter schools have had little or no effect on test scores in neighboring public schools.
Comparing the Effectiveness of Public and Private Schools: A Review of Evidence and Interpretations, WP-003, 2001
This paper explores two questions. First, do private schools produce greater academic achievement or attainment than public schools? And second, does this evidence provide guidance on the potential impact of voucher plans? Based on recent experimental evidence, it finds that Catholic elementary schools have modest effects on the mathematics achievement of poor, minority students in grades 2-5 (but not in grades 6-8 or among non-black students). The evidence on elementary reading achievement does not show consistent effects. In secondary schools, the non-experimental evidence does not show consistent effects on achievement. In contrast, the evidence on attainment is strikingly consistent, indicating that Catholic schools increase the probability of high school completion and college attendance, particularly for minorities in urban areas. However, the latter findings are subject to a caveat. This is because statistical corrections for selection bias may not fully eliminate bias, and may even worsen it. Overall, the evidence is instructive regarding the potential impact of small-scale voucher programs, particularly those encouraging attendance in existing Catholic schools. However, the evidence is notably unhelpful in predicting the effects of large-scale voucher programs-particularly the effects of newly-created private schools on outcomes, or the effects of competition on public schools.
The Public-Private Nexus in Education, WP-001, 2001
Now published in (1999) The American Behavioral Scientist
Although explicit public-private partnerships are rare in education, there is a close connection between the public and private goals of education. Education inherently serves both public and private interests. It addresses public interests by preparing the young to assume adult roles that promote civic responsibility, embrace a common set of economic and political values, and share a common language. Education serves private interests in promoting individual development, understanding, and productivity that contribute to adult productivity and well-being. Unfortunately, educational policy may find itself in conflict while simultaneously serving both public and private mandates. This article reviews that challenge and presents a variety of ways on which public and private sectors collaborate educationally. It focuses most fully on the issues that arise from recent proposals for educational vouchers in which public resources would be used to promote and fund schools in the private marketplace.