In the academic and policy debates over the merits of charter schools, two things are clear: First, they are here to stay and, second, their quality varies widely. Policy makers therefore need to understand how to design charter laws that promote the creation of high-performing schools. Crucial to this discussion is the charter authorizing process, which varies across the nation. In some states, authorizing power is held exclusively by local school districts, whereas other states allow a range of authorizers that may include not only local districts, but also nonprofit organizations, counties, higher educational institutions, or a state agency. In this paper we use individual student-level data from Ohio, which permits a wide range of organizations to authorize charter schools, to examine the relationship between type of authorizer and charter-school effectiveness as measured by students’ achievement trajectories.

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