The Role of School Accountability and Charter Schools in the Achievement of Public School Students
thesisposted on 2017-10-27, 00:00 authored by Patrick Lawrence Baude
Studies of the charter sector typically compare charters and traditional public schools at a point in time. These comparisons are potentially misleading because many charter-related reforms require time to generate results. This dissertation studies quality dynamics among Texas charter schools from 2001- 2011. School quality in the charter sector was initially highly variable and on average lower than traditional public schools. However, exits, improvement of existing charter schools, and expansion of higher- performing charter management organizations increased charter effectiveness relative to traditional public schools. This dissertation presents evidence that reduced student mobility and an increased share of charters adhering to No Excuses- style curricula contribute to these improvements. School accountability ratings provide information about school performance, but its not clear how schools and families respond to ratings in terms of school quality and enrollment choices. Proponents of school accountability claim that by providing information about quality, they help parents make more informed school choice decisions and provide incentives for schools to improve. This dissertation takes two different approaches to identify the effect of assigned ratings using longitudinal administrative data from Texas. First, school fixed effects models are estimated which are identified by within school changes in ratings over time. Since these estimates may also capture persistent changes to school and neighborhood characteristics, and measurement error in the tests, a regression discontinuity design is then estimated. These estimates indicate that school pass rates are most responsive to assigned ratings at the boundary between the lowest two ratings, while reenrollment rates show little response to assigned ratings. In most cases, the effects are larger, though less precise, in the charter school sector where performance incentives are stronger and families tend to have more choices.