School Choice in the Real World: Lessons from Arizona Charter Schools

By Robert Maranto; Scott Milliman et al. | Go to book overview

cally significant for any of the seven indicators, suggesting that the level of competition has limited impact on teacher involvement in school governance in the short run.


Conclusions and Policy Implications

The results suggest that increases in competition do foster behavioral change in both school and district leadership. That said, this overall finding must be placed in context. First, the changes reported are generally slight to moderate, a finding consistent with Rofes ( 1998). Although competition has an impact, the short-run effect is not a massive one. Second, the observed changes may or may not be beneficial. Education scholars, for example, disagree over whether teachers should be encouraged to experiment with curriculum matters. Further, change itself may impede educational performance. That said, many of the changes observed-- increased emphasis on in-service training, professional development, and greater involvement by teachers in school governance--appear likely to be positive if pursued consistently and implemented thoroughly.

There are multiple long-run scenarios consistent with these short-run results. It is possible that these short-run changes will intensify across time and will have an impact on the teaching and learning core. Alternatively, these initial changes may be the extent of the likely reaction; additional changes will not be forthcoming, and these changes may not impact the classroom core.

Careful study of the early data from Arizona and Nevada suggests that charter school competition has impacted traditional public school districts in ways likely to be positive. Arizona schools facing potential competition experienced greater change than Nevada schools lacking competitive concerns, and Arizona schools that faced higher levels of actual competition were the most likely to have changed in significant ways. These findings help fill out part of the picture in Arizona; however, future research is needed to determine the extent and true impact of such changes.


Notes
1.
Hoxby ( 1996, 1998) and Smith and Meier ( 1995) are partial exceptions. Their work infers impacts on public schools from existing private school enrollments, and predicts impacts from expanded choice.
2.
We attempted, roughly, to stratify districts by size (indicated by number of schools), geographic location, and demographic similarity. District size varied greatly, from one to 114 traditional public schools. We split districts into thirds, with "small" districts of four traditional public schools or under, "medium districts" of five to eleven schools, and "large" districts of twelve schools or more. We picked roughly equal numbers of districts from each third.

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School Choice in the Real World: Lessons from Arizona Charter Schools
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables and Figures ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • 1: Real World School Choice: Arizona Charter Schools 1
  • Notes 15
  • References 15
  • PART ONE Theoretical and National Perspectives 17
  • 2: And This Parent Went to Market: Education as Public Versus Private Good 19
  • Notes 35
  • Notes 36
  • 3: The Death of One Best Way: Charter Schools as Reinventing Government 39
  • Notes 55
  • References 55
  • 4: Congress and Charter Schools 58
  • Notes 65
  • Notes 67
  • 5: Charter Schools: A National Innovation, an Arizona Revolution 68
  • Notes 92
  • References 92
  • PART TWO Social Scientists Look at Arizona Charter Schools 97
  • 6: The Wild West of Education Reform: Arizona Charter Schools 99
  • References 114
  • 7: Why Arizona Embarked on School Reform (and Nevada Did Not) 115
  • References 127
  • 8: Do Charter Schools Improve District Schools? Three Approaches to the Question 129
  • Notes 139
  • Notes 140
  • 9: Closing Charters: How a Good Theory Failed in Practice 142
  • Conclusion and Recommendations for Policy Makers 156
  • Notes 158
  • References 158
  • 10: Nothing New: Curricula in Arizona Charter Schools 159
  • References 172
  • 11: How Arizona Teachers View School Reform 173
  • Notes 184
  • References 184
  • PART THREE Practitioners Look at Arizona Charter Schools 187
  • 12: The Empowerment of Market-Based School Reform 189
  • Notes 197
  • References 197
  • 13: A Voice from the State Legislature: Don'T Do What Arizona Did! 198
  • Notes 210
  • References 210
  • 14: Public Schools and the Charter Movement: An Emerging Relationship 212
  • Notes 220
  • References 220
  • 15: Whose Idea Was This Anyway? The Challenging Metamorphosis from Private to Charter 222
  • Notes 233
  • References 233
  • PART FOUR Lessons 235
  • 16: In Lieu of Conclusions: Tentative Lessons from a Contested Frontier 237
  • References 247
  • About the Editors and Contributors 249
  • Index 253
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