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Why are Some Charter Schools More Effective than Others? Econometric Methods and Empirical Evidence from Massachusetts, Michigan, and Texas

Primary Investigator(s): Susan Dynarski, Brian Jacob

Funding Agency: Institute of Education Sciences

Amount: $1,654,320

Period: 3/1/2012 - 2/28/2015

Enrollment in charter schools has tripled over the last decade, and more states are making it easier to open charter schools. These two factors make it likely that growth in charter school enrollment will continue in the coming years. The goal of this research plan is to use a diverse sample of charter schools from three states to determine what makes some charter schools reliably succeed at increasing learning while others do not. A key feature of this study is that charter enrollment will be determined by a lottery system. Such an approach allows comparisons between charter school students and non-charter school students in a manner that meaningfully reduces selection bias. The results of this study are intended to contribute to the body of literature available to policy makers when developing or refining charter school initiatives.