A Good Investment: The Updated Productivity of Public Charter Schools in Eight U.S. Cities

29 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2019

See all articles by Corey DeAngelis

Corey DeAngelis

Reason Foundation; Cato Institute; Educational Freedom Institute

Patrick Wolf

University of Arkansas - Department of Education Reform

Larry Maloney

Aspire Consulting

Jay May

EduAnalytics, LLC

Date Written: April 9, 2019


In 2015-16, the United states spent over $660 billion on its public education system in hopes of providing children with greater opportunities to excel academically and to improve their life trajectories. While public education dollars have risen at a relatively fast pace historically, future challenges, including underfunded pension liabilities, suggest policymakers should economize wherever possible. Meanwhile, the number of public charter schools has increased exponentially. from 1991 to 2018, charter school legislation passed in 44 states and the nation’s capital, and student enrollment in charters increased to around 3.2 million. Since educational resources are limited, we examine which types of schooling offer society the biggest “bang for the buck.” both cost- effectiveness and return-on-investment analyses (ROI) compare the productivity of different organizations providing a similar service – in this case, public education. cost-effectiveness is “the efficacy of a program in achieving given intervention outcomes in relation to the program costs.” We examine the differences in cost-effectiveness and ROI for public charter schools and traditional public schools (TPS) in eight major U.S. cities: Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, New York City, San Antonio, and the District of Columbia. We determine how much money is invested in public charter schools and TPS, what levels of student achievement are attained across the two public school sectors, and how much economic payoff our society can expect to receive as a result of the educational investments in each sector. this report is an update to our first study examining these differences across the United states at the city level.

Keywords: charter schools,school choice, school funding, school finance

Suggested Citation

DeAngelis, Corey and Wolf, Patrick and Maloney, Larry and May, Jay, A Good Investment: The Updated Productivity of Public Charter Schools in Eight U.S. Cities (April 9, 2019). EDRE Working Paper No. 2019-09, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3366979 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3366979

Corey DeAngelis (Contact Author)

Reason Foundation ( email )

1747 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20009
United States

Cato Institute ( email )

1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001-5403
United States

Educational Freedom Institute ( email )

20 E Thomas Rd.
Suite 2200
Phoenix, AZ 85012
United States

Patrick Wolf

University of Arkansas - Department of Education Reform ( email )

201 Graduate Education Building
Fayetteville, AR 72701
United States

Larry Maloney

Aspire Consulting ( email )

14567 North Outer Forty Drive
Suite 110
Chesterfield, MO 63017
United States

Jay May

EduAnalytics, LLC ( email )

401 S. Shaffer Drive
New Freedom, PA 17349-9462
United States

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