Abstracts from two recent papers on charter schools
Both papers appear in American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, October 2013. Gated.
Dobbie and Fryer, "Getting Beneath the Veil of Effective Schools: Evidence From New York City":
In this paper, we collect data on the inner-workings of 39 charter schools and correlate these data with school effectiveness. We find that traditionally collected input measures—class size, per-pupil expenditure, teacher certification, and teacher training—are not correlated with school effectiveness. In stark contrast, we show that an index of five policies suggested by qualitative research—frequent teacher feedback, the use of data to guide instruction, high-dosage tutoring, increased instructional time, and high expectations— explains approximately 45 percent of the variation in school effectiveness. The same index provides similar results in a separate sample of charter schools.
Angrist, Pathak, and Walters, "Explaining Charter School Effectiveness".
Lottery estimates suggest Massachusetts’ urban charter schools boost achievement well beyond that of traditional urban public schools students, while nonurban charters reduce achievement from a higher baseline. The fact that urban charters are most effective for poor nonwhites and low-baseline achievers contributes to, but does not fully explain, these differences. We therefore link school-level charter impacts to school inputs and practices. The relative efficacy of urban lottery sample charters is accounted for by these schools’ embrace of the No Excuses approach to urban education. In our Massachusetts sample, Non-No-Excuses urban charters are no more effective than nonurban charters.