Going Beyond Test Scores

Evaluating Charter School Impact on Educational Attainment in Chicago and Florida

by Kevin Booker, Tim R. Sass, Brian Gill, Ron Zimmer

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Abstract

Unlike past charter school studies, which focus on student achievement, the authors analyze the relationship between charter high school attendance and educational attainment. They find that charter high schools in Florida and in Chicago have substantial positive effects on both high school completion and college attendance. Controlling for observed student characteristics and test scores, univariate probit estimates indicate that among students who attended a charter middle school, those who went on to attend a charter high school were 7 to 15 percentage points more likely to earn a standard diploma than students who transitioned to a traditional public high school. Similarly, those attending a charter high school were 8 to 10 percentage points more likely to attend college. Using the proximity of charters and other types of high schools as exogenous instruments for charter high school attendance, they find even stronger effects in bivariate probit models of charter attendance and educational attainment. While large, their estimates are in line with previous studies of the impact of Catholic high schools on educational attainment.

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