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One possible concern with the main findings is that the positive effect attributed to charter school entry is actually an artifact of TPS students exiting to attend a charter school, receiving a charter school “bump,” and then returning to the public schools, or of students beginning their education in a charter school and then returning to public schools. In this case, my estimates would be identifying the effects of attending a charter school and returning to the TPS system, rather than spillover effects of charter schools on students who remain in TPSs. To address this concern, I use two strategies. First, I limit the sample to students who are continuously enrolled in a NYC TPS—that is, those students who never exit or enter NYC TPSs between grades 3 and 5. This excludes both those students who exit to attend another type of school (charter or otherwise), as well as those students who enter a TPS from a charter school. Second, I examine the effect of charter school entry on the probability that students exit NYC TPSs to attend a charter school, private school, or a school in another district. As seen in columns 2 and 6 of table 6, the effects of charter schools on continuously enrolled students are nearly identical to, if not slightly larger than, the effects on the full sample. Models estimating the effects of charter schools on TPS exit (column 9) find small, significant impacts on the probability of exit from NYC TPSs among students who attend a TPS within one-half or one mile of a charter school, but these estimates are small compared to the base exit rate of 8.1 percent. Overall, these results suggest that my estimates are not capturing the effects of attending a charter school and then returning to a TPS. Although my ITT analysis should address concerns about compositional shifts in TPS students, these results provide further evidence that estimates do not reflect attrition from the sample, as findings are similar among continuously enrolled students.19

Table 6.
Robustness Checks, Effects of Charter Schools on Test Scores, any Charter within One Mile with Pre-trends, AY 1997—2010
MathEnglish Language Arts
Main Results (1)Cont. Enrolled (2)All Schools (3)Co-located Pub. SchoolMain Results (5)Cont. Enrolled (6)All Schools (7)Co-located Pub. School (8)Exit from DOE
Charter          
Co-located 0.083** 0.086** 0.082** 0.083** 0.059* 0.063** 0.062* 0.058* 0.002 
 (0.035) (0.036) (0.035) (0.035) (0.032) (0.032) (0.032) (0.032) (0.005) 
Within 1/2 mile 0.021*** 0.021*** 0.019*** 0.021*** 0.020*** 0.020*** 0.021*** 0.020*** 0.003*** 
 (0.006) (0.006) (0.006) (0.006) (0.006) (0.006) (0.006) (0.006) (0.001) 
Within 1 mile 0.008 0.009 0.006 0.008 0.009 0.010* 0.010* 0.009 0.002** 
 (0.006) (0.006) (0.006) (0.006) (0.005) (0.006) (0.005) (0.005) (0.001) 
Co-located w/TPS    0.008    0.021  
    (0.017)    (0.025)  
Observations 1,902,662 1,837,930 2,569,674 1,902,662 1,823,691 1,762,507 2,449,218 1,823,691 1,957,632 
R2 0.444 0.446 0.469 0.444 0.401 0.404 0.418 0.401 0.034 
MathEnglish Language Arts
Main Results (1)Cont. Enrolled (2)All Schools (3)Co-located Pub. SchoolMain Results (5)Cont. Enrolled (6)All Schools (7)Co-located Pub. School (8)Exit from DOE
Charter          
Co-located 0.083** 0.086** 0.082** 0.083** 0.059* 0.063** 0.062* 0.058* 0.002 
 (0.035) (0.036) (0.035) (0.035) (0.032) (0.032) (0.032) (0.032) (0.005) 
Within 1/2 mile 0.021*** 0.021*** 0.019*** 0.021*** 0.020*** 0.020*** 0.021*** 0.020*** 0.003*** 
 (0.006) (0.006) (0.006) (0.006) (0.006) (0.006) (0.006) (0.006) (0.001) 
Within 1 mile 0.008 0.009 0.006 0.008 0.009 0.010* 0.010* 0.009 0.002** 
 (0.006) (0.006) (0.006) (0.006) (0.005) (0.006) (0.005) (0.005) (0.001) 
Co-located w/TPS    0.008    0.021  
    (0.017)    (0.025)  
Observations 1,902,662 1,837,930 2,569,674 1,902,662 1,823,691 1,762,507 2,449,218 1,823,691 1,957,632 
R2 0.444 0.446 0.469 0.444 0.401 0.404 0.418 0.401 0.034 

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. Co-located with TPS equals 1 for a student in all years that another TPS is located in the same building as the TPS he was first observed attending. All models contain individual-level controls for race, gender, free and reduced-price lunch eligibility, special education, Limited English Proficiency, recent immigrant, lagged test scores, residence borough, grade, year, school effects, and controls for three, 4—6, and 7—9 years prior to charter opening (1—2 years prior is the omitted category). Continuously enrolled includes only those students who are enrolled in a New York City (NYC) TPS for every year between grades 3 and 5. All schools include students in grades 3—5 in all NYC TPSs, including those located in a community school district where a charter school never opens during the sample period. Standard errors are clustered at the school-year level. Robust standard errors in parentheses. DOE = Department of Education.

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

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