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.

  • Periodical

    RAND Review: July-August 2017

    This issue highlights recent RAND research on the prevalence and burden of chronic health conditions; on the economic benefits of U.S. overseas security commitments; and on what RAND is doing to anticipate emerging global security challenges.

    Jul 11, 2017

  • Research Brief

    Observations and Guidance on Implementing Personalized Learning

    Schools implementing personalized learning were pursuing a wide variety of approaches and students closed achievement gaps relative to national norms. Observed challenges to implementation lead to recommendations for implementers.

    Jul 11, 2017

  • A teacher and four students looking at a laptop


    Personalized Learning: Lessons from Implementation

    Personalized learning focuses on meeting students' individual needs while incorporating their interests and preferences. What does this look like in schools that have implemented personalized learning schoolwide?

    Jul 11, 2017

  • Research Brief

    Does School Choice Mean Students Attend Better Schools? The Case of Post–Hurricane Katrina New Orleans

    Researchers examined school choice outcomes in New Orleans following 2005's Hurricane Katrina, including exit patterns of students across sectors and school types in New Orleans and the destination schools of mobile students.

    Jun 22, 2017

  • A student sits on the floor with a laptop and notebooks

    Research Brief

    Online Schools in Ohio: Examining Enrollment and Success

    Who attends e-schools in Ohio? How do they perform compared with students in brick-and-mortar schools? And what do policymakers and educators need to know going forward?

    Jun 8, 2017

  • Journal Article

    Student Enrollment Patterns and Achievement in Ohio's Online Charter Schools

    We utilize state data of nearly 1.7 million students in Ohio to study a specific sector of online education: K–12 schools that deliver most, if not all, education online, lack a brick-and-mortar presence, and enroll students full-time.

    Mar 28, 2017

  • 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 about schools, parents need to know about the quality of instruction, services, and the overall school climate. Schools need a better system of measuring and collecting data on performance, and a way to make 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

  • A young boy waits to get on the school bus

    Journal Article

    School Choice, Student Mobility, and School Quality: Evidence from Post-Katrina New Orleans

    This paper analyzes student mobility in post-Katrina New Orleans between and within the various sectors and school types using a multinomial framework.

    Nov 24, 2015

  • 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

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