Charter School Effects on Charter School Students and Traditional Public School Students in North Carolina Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Horvath, Joshua
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics
  • National growth of school choice has raised concerns about charter school effects on charter students and students left in traditional public schools (TPSs), particularly disadvantaged and minority students. The shift in North Carolina (NC) charters to serving higher-achieving students supports this concern. While much is known about charter school effects on charter students in primary school, much less is known about charter high school effects, and how charters affect TPS students. My dissertation fills this gap in two ways. First, I use data covering all 9th grade public school students in NC from 2005 to 2016 to examine charter high school effects on charter student academic outcomes. I use propensity score matching and find that charters increase student English 1 and ACT scores, and decrease GPA. Charter school entrants (not in a charter in 8th grade) are more likely than TPS students to be retained in 9th grade and less likely to graduate in four years. These negative effects are significantly larger for black charter entrants than white charter entrants. Second, I use panel data covering all public school students in NC from 1997 to 2016 to examine charter school effects on TPS student test scores in grades three through eight. Controlling for student and school fixed effects, I find no overall effect from competition, but higher-achieving charter competition has small positive effects. Lower-achieving competition has zero to small negative effects and, unlike higher-achieving competition, increases achievement gaps for some disadvantaged and minority populations. These results suggest two things. First, the finding of no spillover effects on TPS students and some positive impacts from charter high schools suggests that the marginal expansion of charters in NC, at the least, does not hurt public school students. Second, average effects mask a considerable amount of heterogeneity. In particular, there are more negative charter high school effects on graduation for black charter entrants relative to white, and achievement gaps are increased from lower-achieving competition. This may suggest resources in charter high schools be shifted toward black charter entrants, and resources in TPSs facing lower-achieving competition be shifted to more disadvantaged and minority groups.
Date of publication
Resource type
  • Verdier, Valentin
  • Peter, Klara
  • Lauen, Douglas
  • Cooley Fruehwirth, Jane
  • Tauchen, Helen
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2018

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