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Also consistent with prior evidence that charter schools tend to locate in neighborhoods with lower-performing schools, column 1 of table 2 shows that raw differences in performance between exposed and unexposed students are large and negative in both math and ELA (−0.182 and −0.186 SD, respectively). Moving from the least to most controlled specifications (left to right) highlights the importance of accounting for non-random charter location—adding controls for student characteristics and lagged test scores shrinks the difference in performance by almost 17 percent, and in school fixed effects models that compare outcomes for students attending the same school before and after charter school entry, differences become positive and statistically significant in both subjects (column 3).

Table 2.
Effects of Charter Schools, any Charter within One Mile, AY 1997—2010, Grades 3—5
Panel A: Math(1)(2)(3)(4)(5)(6)
Charter within 1 mile −0.182*** −0.030*** 0.020*** 0.015*** 0.035*** 0.063*** 
 (0.011) (0.004) (0.005) (0.005) (0.009) (0.013) 
Distance to charter     −0.038*** −0.185*** 
     (0.014) (0.052) 
Distance to charter squared      0.145*** 
      (0.050) 
3 years pre-charter    −0.019*** −0.019*** −0.019*** 
    (0.007) (0.007) (0.007) 
4—6 years pre-charter    −0.014** −0.014** −0.014** 
    (0.006) (0.006) (0.006) 
7—9 years pre-charter    −0.035*** −0.036*** −0.036*** 
    (0.008) (0.008) (0.008) 
10+ years pre-charter    −0.058*** −0.060*** −0.059*** 
    (0.012) (0.012) (0.012) 
Observations 1,902,662 1,902,662 1,902,662 1,902,662 1,902,662 1,902,662 
R2 0.025 0.431 0.444 0.444 0.444 0.444 
Panel B: English Language Arts (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) 
Charter within 1 mile −0.186*** −0.038*** 0.008** 0.015*** 0.036*** 0.060*** 
 (0.010) (0.004) (0.004) (0.005) (0.008) (0.011) 
Distance to charter     −0.041*** −0.166*** 
     (0.012) (0.047) 
Distance to charter squared      0.124*** 
      (0.045) 
3 years pre-charter    0.010 0.010 0.010 
    (0.006) (0.006) (0.006) 
4—6 years pre-charter    0.014*** 0.014*** 0.014*** 
    (0.005) (0.005) (0.005) 
7—9 years pre-charter    0.012* 0.011 0.011* 
    (0.007) (0.007) (0.007) 
10+ years pre-charter    0.001 −0.000 0.000 
    (0.009) (0.009) (0.009) 
Student characteristics 
Lagged test scores 
School effects 
Observations 1,823,691 1,823,691 1,823,691 1,823,691 1,823,691 1,823,691 
R2 0.027 0.386 0.401 0.401 0.401 0.401 
Panel A: Math(1)(2)(3)(4)(5)(6)
Charter within 1 mile −0.182*** −0.030*** 0.020*** 0.015*** 0.035*** 0.063*** 
 (0.011) (0.004) (0.005) (0.005) (0.009) (0.013) 
Distance to charter     −0.038*** −0.185*** 
     (0.014) (0.052) 
Distance to charter squared      0.145*** 
      (0.050) 
3 years pre-charter    −0.019*** −0.019*** −0.019*** 
    (0.007) (0.007) (0.007) 
4—6 years pre-charter    −0.014** −0.014** −0.014** 
    (0.006) (0.006) (0.006) 
7—9 years pre-charter    −0.035*** −0.036*** −0.036*** 
    (0.008) (0.008) (0.008) 
10+ years pre-charter    −0.058*** −0.060*** −0.059*** 
    (0.012) (0.012) (0.012) 
Observations 1,902,662 1,902,662 1,902,662 1,902,662 1,902,662 1,902,662 
R2 0.025 0.431 0.444 0.444 0.444 0.444 
Panel B: English Language Arts (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) 
Charter within 1 mile −0.186*** −0.038*** 0.008** 0.015*** 0.036*** 0.060*** 
 (0.010) (0.004) (0.004) (0.005) (0.008) (0.011) 
Distance to charter     −0.041*** −0.166*** 
     (0.012) (0.047) 
Distance to charter squared      0.124*** 
      (0.045) 
3 years pre-charter    0.010 0.010 0.010 
    (0.006) (0.006) (0.006) 
4—6 years pre-charter    0.014*** 0.014*** 0.014*** 
    (0.005) (0.005) (0.005) 
7—9 years pre-charter    0.012* 0.011 0.011* 
    (0.007) (0.007) (0.007) 
10+ years pre-charter    0.001 −0.000 0.000 
    (0.009) (0.009) (0.009) 
Student characteristics 
Lagged test scores 
School effects 
Observations 1,823,691 1,823,691 1,823,691 1,823,691 1,823,691 1,823,691 
R2 0.027 0.386 0.401 0.401 0.401 0.401 

Notes: Charter equals 1 in any year there is a charter school located within 1 mile of a student's traditional public school (TPS). Distance to charter is the Euclidian distance (in miles) between the student's TPS and the nearest charter within 1 mile. A negative coefficient indicates that the effect of charters increases with proximity. All models control for residence borough, grade, and year. Models in columns 2—6 control for race, gender, free/reduced-price lunch eligibility, special education, limited English proficiency, nativity, recent immigrant, and lagged test scores. Standard errors are clustered at the school-year level. Robust standard errors in parentheses.

***p < 0.01; **p < 0.05; *p < 0.1.

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