Caroline M. Hoxby and Sonali Murarka
National Bureau of Economic Research
This report presents the first findings of a federally-funded, multi-year study of New York's charter schools. Although the authors plan to evaluate such outcomes as dropout rates and post-graduation outcomes as more data become available, this report only analyzes test scores. Importantly, the authors employed a "gold standard" randomized-trial method, comparing the winners and losers of blind lotteries that determined which students gained admission to sought-after charter schools. The results are encouraging. For every year a student spends in an NYC charter school, his math scores improve 12 percent more than those of his district-school peers; reading scores improve 3.5 percent more. Due to a relative paucity of reliable data, the authors were largely unable to conclude which charter school policies have the greater positive impacts on student achievement. They did, however, detect a significant correlation between higher scores and the extended school year that most charters employ. The report also provides comprehensive data on the characteristics of the city's charter schools and their students. For instance, blacks (64 percent) and Hispanics (27 percent) account for most of the city's charter school applicants; they make up 49 percent and 39 percent, respectively, of the traditional NYC public-school population. Overall, it's a solid, well-researched contribution to the charter-school debate. Download it here.