From the Field

Research Notes: Competitive Effects of Charter Schools

Since the 2005-06 school year, charter school enrollment has more than tripled. Advocates of charter school expansion argue that opening charter schools incentivizes traditional public schools to provide higher quality education to their students, motivated by the prospect of losing pupils to charter schools. Opponents counter that traditional public schools may face decreases in funding and faculty losses, hurting students. Yet new research suggests that charter school openings within school districts’ boundaries result in higher reading scores and improved attendance rates in traditional public schools within the districts.

In the study, “Competitive Effects of Charter Schools,” researchers David N. Figlio, Cassandra M.D. Hart, and Davis Krzysztof Karbownik studied the effects of charter school openings in 12 districts in Florida, focusing on academic performance in grades three through eight and attendance in grades one through eight. The researchers found that competition from new charter schools improved reading scores, but not math performance for students attending traditional public schools in the same school district. Additionally, their results showed that absenteeism in traditional public schools decreased as a consequence of charter school openings. The researchers produced similar results using three different models to estimate student performance and charter-school competition.

Competitive Effects of Charter Schools

David Figlio, Cassandra M. D. Hart, and Krzysztof Karbownik

February 2024