The Sorting Effect of Charter Schools on Student Composition in Traditional Public Schools
University of Utah
This article investigates how Michigan’s charter school policy influences the composition of students by race and socioeconomic status in urban traditional public schools.
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
Vol. 25, No. 4, pp. 1-28
- The likelihood of transfer from traditional public schools (TPS) to charter schools is significantly related to a student’s SES, race, and special education status.
- Low-income students were less likely to transfer to charter schools than non-poverty students, which is consistent with the literature that higher-SES parents are more likely to take advantage of choice.
- Students with special needs were less likely to transfer to charter schools than general education students, which supports previous research that shows in Michigan, many charter schools are unwilling or have no capacity to accommodate students with disabilities.
- Results imply that the influence of SES background on the likelihood of transferring to charter schools is opposite for White students and students of color. Whereas low-income White students were more likely to transfer than non-poverty White students, low-income students of color, including Black, Hispanic, and Asian, were less likely to transfer than non-poverty students from these racial backgrounds. This might suggest that high-SES White families are better able to use other forms of choice so that they are less likely to use charter school options than low-SES White families, whereas low-SES families of color face racial or resource constraints such as transportation and availability of information than high-SES families of color in using the charter school choice.
- Results indicate that that the urban students who transfer to charter schools tend to be non-poverty Black or low-income White students, whereas students of color from low-income families tend to be left behind in their assigned schools.
- Low-income charter students were significantly more likely to transfer back to TPSs than their more affluent schoolmates.
- Students were more likely to transfer back to TPSs if the charter school they attended had low effectiveness and had a small enrollment.
Journal Article Historical Analysis
Academic Achievement, Charter Schools, Composition, Public Schools, Urban Schools
Method of Analysis:
Urban students grades K-7
Unit of Analysis:
- The primary data come from Michigan’s Single Record Student Databases (SRSD) for 2002-2003 and 2003-2004. The SRSD is managed by the state’s Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI), which contains detailed information on each K-12 student in Michigan’s public schools, and can be linked to information on the schools they attend and the school districts in which they reside.
- School achievement data were used from the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) tests for 2002-2003 come from the Michigan Department of Education’s Office of School Assessment and Accountability.
- Sample includes only students in Michigan's urban areas who were in grades K-7 in 2002-2003 or grades 1-8 the following year.
- DV: Probability of student switching from charter to traditional and vice versa
- IV: Race, SES (measured as qualification for free lunch), special education status, school-level demographics such as percentage low-income, percentage Black/Hispanic/Asian, school effectiveness index (measured as difference between average school MEAP score and predicted MEAP score)