Academic journal article Contemporary Economic Policy

Why Do Charter Schools Fail? an Analysis of Charter School Survival in New Jersey

Academic journal article Contemporary Economic Policy

Why Do Charter Schools Fail? an Analysis of Charter School Survival in New Jersey

Article excerpt

I. INTRODUCTION

The public education systems are failing a large segment of the population. Official data on test scores show that poor and minority students are persistently performing below grade level. Some people have argued that the best way to reform the education system is to create competition for traditional public schools (TPS) by distributing private school vouchers and by allowing charter schools to operate alongside TPS. Charter schools are the most widely available choice schools because they are public schools, (1) although they are not operated by the local school district. The number of charter schools has increased substantially in the last decade. (2) Now 41 states issue charters to schools that specify the philosophy, goals, and methods for achieving their mission and exempt these schools from some regulations that govern other public schools. State-governing agencies periodically review charter schools and may rescind the charter if a school does not attract enough students, does not meet its specified goals, or is mismanaged. Hence, like firms in a competitive market, charter schools can fail because of fiscal mismanagement or because of the inability to satisfy customer demands for quality education that includes enhancing students' cognitive and noncognitive skills or for a safe or, in other ways, superior learning environment. But only failures driven primarily by the schools' inability to improve skills will spur the desired improvement in TPS. Not only will these underperforming charter schools be removed but, perhaps more importantly, the threat of failure and the loss of the charter will incentivize teachers and administrators to provide an effective and efficient education in order to meet the expectations and goals of parents and students. Thus, the question of why schools fail is important for the assessment of the likely success of charter school competition to improve TPS education. (3)

There have been numerous studies that analyze whether charter schools are in fact improving educational outcomes. For many years researchers have investigated if charter schools enhance students' cognitive skills, usually by comparing charter school students' standardized test scores with scores of TPS students after controlling for socioeconomic factors. (4) Some recent studies conclude that charter school students have higher graduation rates (Booker et al. 2011) and score higher on standardized tests than TPS students (Booker et al. 2007), whereas others conclude charter school students do not score higher on tests (Hanushek et al. 2007). Recent studies of high-performing charter schools use data on oversubscribed schools and find test score gains for those students randomly selected from the applicant pool to attend the charter compared to those students who were lottery losers (Abdulkadiroglu et al. 2011; Angrist, Pathak, and Walters 2013). In addition, Dobbie and Fryer (2013) find that students who attended a high-performing charter school in Harlem are more likely to enroll in college, less likely to become pregnant (girls) or incarcerated (boys), and they score higher on cognitive tests. Studies investigating the effects of charter schools on the scores of students who remain in TPS also show mixed results (Sass 2006). Welsch (2011) concludes that competition from charter schools causes increases in resources to teaching personnel in TPS. Imberman (2011) finds that charter school students improve in noncognitive skills, measured by school attendance, compared to students at TPS. Other researchers estimate production functions to ascertain whether charter schools make efficient use of their resources and conclude that charters do not use resources efficiently but are more efficient than traditional schools (Gronberg, Jansen, and Taylor 2012).

A study particularly relevant to our work was released in October 2012 by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO). Researchers analyze annual state-mandated standardized test scores of students attending New Jersey (NJ) elementary and middle grade charter schools and TPS for the academic years 2006-2007 to 2010-2011. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.