Choice-Based Education Reform

The goal of the school choice movement is to allow parents to decide which of the increasing options—from traditional public and private schools and charter and magnet schools to vouchers and tax credits—will best meet their children's educational needs. RAND's analyses consider the role of choice-based school reform in shaping education policy.

  • A teacher meeting with a parent and her child in a classroom


    School Choice: How Parents Can Find Out What They Need to Know

    To make an informed choice, parents need to know about the quality of school instruction, services, and the overall school climate. Schools need a better system of measuring and collecting data on school performance, and making it accessible to families.

    Feb 21, 2017

  • U.S. President-elect Donald Trump (center) and Vice President-elect Mike Pence (left) emerge with Betsy DeVos after a meeting at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, November 19, 2016


    Making American Education Great Will Require More Than Charter Schools

    The nomination of Betsy DeVos for U.S. Secretary of Education has shone a spotlight on charter schools. While charters could become an important part of a great education system, this burst of attention poses a risk that other issues will be ignored.

    Dec 13, 2016

  • Report

    Evaluation of the Regional Choice Initiative

    This evaluation describes the Regional Choice Initiative (RCI), a large-scale initiative in 17 school districts in Pennsylvania. The RCI sought to expand school choice and offer more-rigorous courses for students in grades 7 to 12.

    Jan 8, 2016

  • Children raise their hands in a classroom


    How School Choice Could Disadvantage Low-Income Students

    The flexibility to allow Title I-A funds to follow students across schools has a certain appeal. But it could have negative consequences for some of the poorest students.

    Sep 1, 2015

  • two preschool children using colored pencils


    Narrowing the Income Achievement Gap

    The achievement gap between children from the highest- and lowest-income families has substantially grown since 1960. The income achievement gap is now about twice the size of the black-white achievement gap.

    Jun 12, 2014

  • News Release

    Choice of University in England: It's Not Just About the Money

    Tuition fee levels are not the only factor that prospective students and their parents consider when choosing universities. They also compare employment prospects, living expenses, university location, and course quality.

    Jun 12, 2014

  • uncertain students


    Understanding the Impact of Differential University Fees in England

    Despite tuition of up to £9000 per year for higher education institutions in England, applications continue to rise. Aside from tuition fees, employment prospects, living expenses, university location, and course quality are important influences on prospective students' university choices.

    Jun 12, 2014

  • two elementary students with a teacher


    What Do We Know About Charter Schools? Moving Beyond the Talking Points

    Since their inception in 1992, charter schools have been a lightning rod for controversy in the education policy world. Research highlights the importance of moving beyond test scores and broadening the scope of measures that evaluate success in order to fully assess the performance of charter schools.

    Apr 4, 2013

  • map of Qatar

    Journal Article

    Reforming the Qatari School System

    Qatar's education system now includes independent schools, internationally-accredited and well-respected private schools, and a tuition vouchers program that may spur further expansion of the private school system.

    Jan 1, 2013

  • Periodical

    Policy Decisions for Better Schools Should Be Based on Evidence

    Both President Obama and Governor Romney have argued that while NCLB's goals of holding schools accountable and shrinking the achievement gap are admirable, the law is in dire need of adjustment. Both platforms do appear to be largely based on existing evidence from education research, with a few caveats.

    Sep 21, 2012

  • African-American science teacher and female chemistry student


    Are Charter Schools a Good Option in the Gulf States?

    In an effort to improve public education, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama have each examined the potential of charter schools. For nearly two decades, RAND has conducted objective, evidence-based research on choice-based education reforms to help education policymakers make the right decisions for their communities.

    Aug 21, 2012

  • Resilient Communities Audio Podcast


    Remaking a School System in the Wake of Natural Disaster

    In this Resilient Communities podcast, Jennifer Steele discusses the differences in policies and practices between charter and traditional schools in New Orleans, where charter-based reform spread in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

    May 15, 2012

  • Research Brief

    Perceptions of Charter and Traditional Schools in New Orleans

    RAND researchers found many similarities between charter and traditional schools in New Orleans but greater satisfaction among charter school parents with their children's schools, as well as more perceived choices.

    Oct 5, 2011

  • teacher and student at chalkboard


    Perceptions of Traditional and Charter Schools in New Orleans

    After Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans replaced the city's existing school system with a decentralized choice-based system of both charter and district-run schools. An examination of principal, teacher, and parent surveys found many similarities between charter and traditional schools' performance but greater satisfaction among charter school parents with their children's schools, as well as more perceived choices.

    Oct 5, 2011

  • Research Brief

    The Cost of Providing Quality Early Care and Education in Saint Paul, Minnesota

    Shares results of a RAND analysis of programs participating in Minnesota's Saint Paul Early Childhood Scholarship Program, which provides scholarships to cover the cost of high-quality early childhood education programs.

    Mar 15, 2011

  • Report

    Cost Study of the Saint Paul Early Childhood Scholarship Program

    Minnesota's Saint Paul Early Childhood Scholarship Program provides scholarships to cover the cost of high-quality early childhood education programs. This report provides detailed cost and program data for 12 participating programs.

    Mar 15, 2011

  • Journal Article

    The Central Office in a Decentralized System

    As the charter school movement has come to scale within the United States, it poses new questions about how to govern public education. With a significant rural contingent, charter schools are no longer just an urban phenomenon. Partly in response to the growth in charter schools, Paul Hill, director ...

    Dec 1, 2010

  • Journal Article

    Are Educational Vouchers Only Redistributive?

    It is unclear if vouchers increase educational productivity or are purely redistributive, benefiting recipients by giving them access to more desirable peers at others' expense. To examine this, the authors study an educational voucher programme in Colombia which allocated vouchers by lottery.

    Aug 1, 2010

  • Journal Article

    Promoting Quality and Variety Through the Public Financing of Privately Operated Schools in Qatar

    Qatar began establishing publicly funded, privately operated "independent schools" in parallel with the existing Ministry of Education system in 2002.

    Jan 1, 2010

  • Journal Article

    Expanding What Counts When Evaluating Charter School Effectiveness

    The message of this chapter is that it is possible to expand the way we measure school outcomes to better reflect the goals of charter schools, thus providing more useful information for students, parents, school administrators, and policy makers, all of whom make decisions that influence the success of charter schools.

    Jan 1, 2010

Research conducted by