Abstract

I utilize longitudinal data covering all public school students in Florida to study the performance of charter schools and their competitive impact on traditional public schools. Controlling for student-level fixed effects, I find achievement initially is lower in charters. However, by their fifth year of operation new charter schools reach a par with the average traditional public school in math and produce higher reading achievement scores than their traditional public school counterparts. Among charters, those targeting at-risk and special education students demonstrate lower student achievement, while charter schools managed by for-profit entities peform no differently on average than charters run by nonprofits. Controlling for preexisting traditional public school quality, competition from charter schools is associated with modest increases in math scores and unchanged reading scores in nearby traditional public schools.

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