Evaluation of the effects of school choice-based reforms in the case of Pennsylvania charter schools
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This study examines the direct and indirect impacts of charter schools in Pennsylvania. Descriptive and multivariate analyses of the state-wide longitudinal data set of Pennsylvania schools from 2006 to 2011 are used to analyze the direct impact. Fixed effects, first differencing, and random trends estimators were used to analyze the competitive effect. Aside from the effect of charter schools on traditional public schools, a comparison of brick and mortar charter schools' and cyber charter schools' characteristics, performances, and impacts are also examined. The findings suggest that charter schools perform at a significantly lower level than traditional public schools in Reading and Math. However, the gap between the two school types is narrowing, indicating the charter schools' growth rates are higher than traditional public schools'. Traditional public schools are more efficient in 6 th , 8 th , and 11 th grade Math, and 11 th grade Reading, while charter schools are significantly more productive in 8 th grade Reading when the cost of education is controlled. Traditional public schools' overall efficiency declines over time in all subjects and tests, however they are more efficient when all controls are applied. Cyber charter schools are more effective and efficient in Reading when school averages are compared, and when such comparison is conducted controlling for the cost of education. When all controls are applied, brick and mortar charter schools are shown to be more efficient. Brick and mortar charter schools outperform traditional public schools in 8 th grade and 11 th grade Reading, while the difference between the two is insignificant in the rest of the tests. Cyber charter schools underperform traditional public schools in all tests analyzed. Short-term positive charter school competition effects are observed in 6 th grade Reading and Math. Long-term positive charter school competition persists in 6 th grade Reading. This study provides new evidence of the impact of charter schools in Pennsylvania. This is a first attempt to analyze Pennsylvania charter schools' direct and indirect impacts, as well as the differential impact of cyber charter schools and brick and mortar charter schools.