Skip to Main Content

Both theories of competition and information transfer suggest that the effects of charter schools on TPS performance are likely to vary with charter school quality. Specifically, one would expect TPSs to exhibit stronger responses to high-quality than average or low-quality charter schools. I therefore examine whether the effects of charters on TPSs vary with charter school quality, which I define in two ways. First, I use fourth-grade proficiency on standardized reading and math exams, where charter schools are classified as “high performing” if average proficiency in ELA and math is above the 75th percentile for the city in the prior year.18 One challenge with this approach, however, is that charter schools must have students enrolled in the fourth grade in order to assess quality by this metric. Because many charter schools scale up enrollments starting in kindergarten, they will not have tested students until several years after opening. Therefore, I also use a different measure of quality where I define “high quality” charter schools as those belonging to well-known Charter Management Organizations such as KIPP, Success Academies, Uncommon, and so forth. As shown in table 4, there is suggestive evidence that TPSs are more responsive to high-quality charter schools. Although spillover effects remain positive for students in co-located TPSs and TPSs within one-half mile of the nearest charter, the effects in ELA are significantly greater in those TPSs located within one-half mile of a high-quality charter school. The finding that co-located TPSs do not respond as strongly to the quality of co-located charter schools may reflect the reality that having a charter school in the same building places pressures on the TPS regardless of charter performance, whereas those TPSs located farther away feel stronger pressure from high-performing charters.

Table 4.
Effects of Charter Schools on Test Scores by Proximity and Charter School Quality, with Pre-trends, AY 1997—2010, Students in Grades 3—5
High PerformingWell-Known CMO
Math (1)ELA (2)Math (3)ELA (4)
Charter     
Co-located 0.099** 0.076** 0.081* 0.056 
 (0.038) (0.034) (0.049) (0.045) 
Co-located × High performing −0.102 −0.109 0.007 0.011 
 (0.085) (0.103) (0.057) (0.054) 
Within 1/2 mile 0.022*** 0.018*** 0.019*** 0.014** 
 (0.006) (0.006) (0.007) (0.006) 
Within 1/2 mile × High performing −0.007 0.017* 0.016 0.041*** 
 (0.011) (0.010) (0.013) (0.011) 
Within 1 mile 0.008 0.008 0.008 0.010* 
 (0.006) (0.006) (0.006) (0.006) 
Within 1 mile × High performing 0.001 0.005 0.001 −0.009 
 (0.011) (0.010) (0.015) (0.014) 
Observations 1,902,662 1,823,691 1,902,662 1,823,691 
R2 0.444 0.401 0.444 0.401 
High PerformingWell-Known CMO
Math (1)ELA (2)Math (3)ELA (4)
Charter     
Co-located 0.099** 0.076** 0.081* 0.056 
 (0.038) (0.034) (0.049) (0.045) 
Co-located × High performing −0.102 −0.109 0.007 0.011 
 (0.085) (0.103) (0.057) (0.054) 
Within 1/2 mile 0.022*** 0.018*** 0.019*** 0.014** 
 (0.006) (0.006) (0.007) (0.006) 
Within 1/2 mile × High performing −0.007 0.017* 0.016 0.041*** 
 (0.011) (0.010) (0.013) (0.011) 
Within 1 mile 0.008 0.008 0.008 0.010* 
 (0.006) (0.006) (0.006) (0.006) 
Within 1 mile × High performing 0.001 0.005 0.001 −0.009 
 (0.011) (0.010) (0.015) (0.014) 
Observations 1,902,662 1,823,691 1,902,662 1,823,691 
R2 0.444 0.401 0.444 0.401 

Notes: All distance indicators are mutually exclusive. Co-located charter equals 1 for a student in all years that a charter school is open in the same building as the first school he is observed attending. Charter within 1/2 mile equals 1 for a student in all years that the closest charter school is located more than 0 but less than 1/2 mile from the traditional public school (TPS) he was first observed attending. Charter within 1 mile equals 1 for a student in all years that the closest charter school is located more than 1/2 but less than 1 mile from the TPS he was first observed attending. High performing charters are defined as those schools where average proficiency in English Language Arts (ELA) and math is above the 75th percentile for the city in the previous year. Well-known/respected charter management organizations (CMOs) are defined as those CMOs with a reputation for improving student performance, such as Success, KIPP, or Uncommon. All models contain individual-level controls for race, gender, free and reduced-price lunch eligibility, special education, limited English proficiency, nativity, recent immigrant, lagged test scores, residence borough, grade, year, school effects, and controls 3, 4—6, 7—9, and 10 or more years prior to charter school entry (1—2 years prior is the omitted category). Standard errors are clustered at the school-year level. Robust standard errors in parentheses.

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

Close Modal

or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal