Date of Award

10-1-2007

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Public Management and Policy

First Advisor

Dr. Christine H. Roch - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Gary T. Henry

Third Advisor

Dr. Gordon A. Kingsley

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Gregory B. Lewis

Fifth Advisor

Dr. Mary Beth Walker

Abstract

As charter schools continue to proliferate across United States, their impact on the public education system is becoming an increasingly important public policy question. Charter school proponents argue that combined pressures of consumer choice and market competition will induce traditional public schools to respond by providing higher quality education and promoting innovation and equity. Skeptics worry that charter schools pose risks of segregating students by race and economic level, and reducing per-pupil resources available to traditional public schools. This dissertation provides a comprehensive evaluation of the effects of charter schools on regular public schools by addressing the following questions: 1) How do the charter schools affect the racial, ethnic and cosio-economic distribution, student-teacher ratios and achievement of traditional public schools? 2) How do the size and scope of competitive effects vary according to different measures of competition? Using two-period panel data from the National Center of Education Statistics (NCES) Common Core Data (CCD) for traditional public schools in Florida, New Jersey, Texas and Ohio, I compare changes in racial and ethnic distribution, student-teacher ratios and achievement in public schools that do and do not face competition. I use a variation of the difference-in-differences (DD) estimation strategy to study the effect of charter schools on the outcome measures. The findings from the study suggest that introduction of charter schools in the educational landscape has affected student distributions, and at least in some cases, student-teacher ratios and the performance of traditional public schools. Charter schools seem to contribute to declines in the share of non-Hispanic white students in traditional public schools in all four states. The results show variation in other outcome areas across states and competition measures. The findings highlight the importance of monitoring what will happen to non-choosers in traditional schools as well as the role of considering state context and empirical measures while generalizing from charter school studies.

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