Do Charter Schools Improve District Schools? Three Approaches to the Question
ROBERT MARANTO, SCOTT MILLIMAN, FREDERICK HESS, APRIL GRESHAM
Charter schools allow parents and charter operators to select a range of options for individual children and for individual teachers. This may produce useful education programs for a small number of students. However, for some time to come, the vast majority of students will attend traditional public schools. Accordingly, charter schools could have their greatest impact by stimulating improvement in traditional public schools. This chapter will examine whether Arizona charter schools have had such impacts.
There are two primary rationales for choice-based efforts to improve schooling. First, for a host of reasons, the children who attend the choice schools may receive a better education. This argument has been offered and contested in a number of empirical works ( Chubb and Moe 1990; Greene et al. 1998; Peterson and Noyes 1997; but see Sukstorf et al. 1993; Witte et al. 1994). A second rationale is that children remaining in the traditional public schools will benefit due to competitive pressures generated by choice schools. This argument, often referred to as the market