The Unknown World of Charter High Schools

Charter schools have become a popular alternative to traditional public schools, with some 5,000 schools now serving more than 1.5 million students, and they have received considerable attention among researchers as a result.

Most studies focus on the effects of charter attendance on short-term student achievement (test scores), using either data sets that follow students over time (see “Results from the Tar Heel State,” research, Fall 2005) or random assignment via school admission lotteries (see “New York City Charter Schools,” research, Summer 2008) to control for differences between students in charter and traditional public schools. Beyond measuring achievement effects, however, there has been only limited analysis of the impacts of charters on the students who attend them. Even less research has been conducted on the effects of charter high schools specifically, though a large portion of all charter schools in the U.S. serve some or all of the high school grades.

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