Bifulco, Robert, & Ladd, Helen
School Choice, Racial Segregation, and Test-Score Gaps: Evidence from North Carolina's Charter School Program
Examine the effects of charter schools in NC on racial segregation and black-white test score gaps.
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management
Vol. 26, No.1, pp. 31-56
- NC system of charter schools has increased the racial isolation of both Black and White students, and has widened the achievement gap.
- Charter school students exhibit annual gains 0.16 standard deviations smaller in math, on average, than the gains those same students made while they were enrolled in traditional public schools.
- The relatively large negative effects of charter schools on the achievement of Black students are linked to the fact that charter schools increased racial isolation.
- Asymmetric preferences of Black and White charter school students (and their families) for schools of different racial compositions help to explain why there are so few racially balanced charter schools.
- Because the racial profile of a charter school is so closely related to other characteristics such as school mission, the quality of the teachers it is able to recruit, the program it offers, or the quality of its facilities, it is not possible to distinguish the causal effects of a school’s racial mix from these other characteristics: whether the schools explicitly targets at-risk students.
- The substantial majority of Black students who made racially segregated moves did not have access to charter schools with racially balanced student profiles, schools that these students might have preferred had they been available.
- White charter school families prefer schools with less than 20 % of the students are Black.
- Charter schools have had larger negative effects on the achievement of Black students and particularly on Black students with less educated parents, than on White students.
Journal Article Empirical Research
Academic Achievement, Achievement Gap, Charter Schools, Choice, Math, Reading, Segregation
Secondary Survey Data
Method of Analysis:
Fixed Effects Regression Models
North Carolina Students
Unit of Analysis:
- Data from the North Carolina Education Research Data Center.
- Individual student-level panels for five cohorts of students-the cohorts of students in third grade in 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000. Each cohort contains the universe of students in third grade in NC public schools during the specified year, each of whom is followed through eight grade or until the-001-02 schools year, whichever comes first.
- Use a subset of 6,480 school "switchers" to examine changes in the composition of student peers as students transfer form a traditional public school to a charter school.
- Information includes their scales scores on the End of Grade (EOG reading and math tests, their school, whether their school is a charter, their grade, their gender, their ethnicity, and the highest level of education completed by their parents.
- Panel data that tracks individual students from year to year.
- Use school-level and individual –level variables that call for the use of robust standard errors, which can be estimated using the Huber/White/Sandwich estimator of variance.
- Use the test score gains as dependent variable.
- Use conditional logit model of the choice of charter schools of Blacks, conditional on switching to a charter schools.
- Model #1
- DV: gain in test scores on the EOG reading and math tests.
- IV: school is a charter, grade, gender, ethnicity, highest level of education completed by parents, changed school last year.
- Model # 2
- DV: charter school choice
- IV: racial concentration, distance, log of enrollment, pupil/teacher ratio, target at-risk students, target gifted students, community-oriented mission, emphasis on African or African American studies, emphasis on character or moral education, emphasis on experiential instruction, emphasis on individualized education plans, emphasis on alternative assessments.