School Choice and Achievement: The Ohio Charter School Experience

24 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2013

Date Written: October 15, 2012


K-12 education policy has recently received much scrutiny from policymakers, taxpayers, parents, and students. Reformers have often cited increases in spending with little noticeable gain in test scores, coupled with the fact that American students lag behind their foreign peers on standardized tests, as the policy problem. School choice, specifically charter school policy, has emerged as a potential remedy. School choice is hypothesized to have both participant and systemic (sometimes called competitive) effects. This article concentrates on the latter by using a novel design not used before in studies of this subject. School level data from Ohio are analyzed to estimate if traditional public schools potentially threatened by charter schools respond with positive test score gains. Specifically, an exogenous change to the education system in 2003 provides a natural experiment to examine potential systemic effects. Results indicate that the threat of charter schools seems to have had a small positive effect on traditional public school achievement.

Keywords: education policy, charter schools, public schools, federal policy, standardized testing, no child left behind

JEL Classification: I20, I21, I28, H52, H75

Suggested Citation

Gray, Nathan L., School Choice and Achievement: The Ohio Charter School Experience (October 15, 2012). Cato Journal, Vol. 32, No. 3, 2012, Available at SSRN:

Nathan L. Gray (Contact Author)

Young Harris College ( email )

1 College St
Young Harris, GA 30582
United States

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