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Can Successful Schools Replicate? Scaling Up Boston's Charter School Sector

Sarah Cohodes, Elizabeth Setren, Christopher R. Walters

NBER Working Paper No. 25796
Issued in May 2019
NBER Program(s):The Program on Children, The Education Program, The Labor Studies Program, The Public Economics Program

Can schools that boost student outcomes reproduce their success at new campuses? We study a policy reform that allowed effective charter schools in Boston, Massachusetts to replicate their school models at new locations. Estimates based on randomized admission lotteries show that replication charter schools generate large achievement gains on par with those produced by their parent campuses. The average effectiveness of Boston’s charter middle school sector increased after the reform despite a doubling of charter market share. An exploration of mechanisms shows that Boston charter schools reduce the returns to teacher experience and compress the distribution of teacher effectiveness, suggesting the highly standardized practices in place at charter schools may facilitate replicability.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25796

 
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