Injecting Successful Charter School Strategies into Traditional Public Schools: A Field Experiment in Houston
We implemented five strategies gleaned from practices in achievement-increasing charter schools - increased instructional time, a more rigorous approach to building human capital of teachers and administrators, high-dosage tutoring, frequent use of data to inform instruction, and a culture of high expectations - in twenty of the lowest performing schools in Houston, Texas. We show that the average impact of these changes on student achievement is 0.206 standard deviations in math and 0.043 standard deviations in reading, per year, which is comparable to reported impacts of attending high-performing charter schools. This suggests that the best practices of charter schools may be general lessons about the education production function.
Previously circulated as "Injecting Successful Charter School Strategies into Traditional Public Schools: Early Results from an Experiment in Houston." I give special thanks to Terry Grier, Tom Boasberg, and the Houston ISD Foundation's Apollo 20 oversight committee whose leadership made this experiment possible. I also thank Richard Barth, James Calaway, Geoffrey Canada, Tim Daly, Michael Goldstein, Michael Holthouse, and Wendy Kopp for countless hours of advice and counsel, and my colleagues David Card, Will Dobbie, Michael Greenstone, Lawrence Katz, Steven Levitt, Jesse Rothstein, Andrei
Shleifer, Jörg Spenkuch, Grover Whitehurst, and seminar participants at Barcelona GSE, Brown, University of California at Berkeley, Harvard, MIT, and NBER Summer Institute for comments and suggestions at various stages of this project. Brad Allan, Sara D'Alessandro, Matt Davis, Blake Heller, Meghan Howard Noveck, Lisa Phillips, Sameer Sampat, Rucha Vankudre, and Brecia Young provided truly exceptional implementation support and research assistance. Financial support from Bank of America, Broad Foundation, Brown Foundation, Chevron Corporation, the Cullen Foundation, Deloitte, LLP, El Paso Corporation, Fondren Foundation, Greater Houston Partnership, Houston Endowment, Houston Livestock and Rodeo, J.P. Morgan Chase Foundation, Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLC, Michael Holthouse Foundation for Kids, the Simmons Foundation, Texas High School Project, and Wells Fargo is gratefully acknowledged. The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.