Jesse Bruhn, Scott A. Imberman, Marcus A. Winters, 01 November 2020

Charter schools in the US – publicly funded but independently operated schools of choice – are often criticised for competing with and harming the quality of surrounding traditional public schools. This column examines Massachusetts’s expansive and effective charter-school sector for the relationship between teacher quality and mobility. Charter schools retain fewer teachers compared to traditional public schools and the best teachers often move to the traditional public-school system. Charter schools may benefit traditional public schools by providing an alternative pathway for unlicensed teachers to enter the labour force and sorting those who are successful in to traditional public schools. 

Sarah Cohodes, Elizabeth Setren, Chris Walters, 22 August 2019

Interventions that succeed in small-scale demonstrations often fail to sustain their effects when scaled up. This column examines the case of an expansion of the successful charter school sector in Boston, Massachusetts. The findings reveal that the city’s charter sector maintained effectiveness while doubling in size, and that organisational practices in the sector may be an important component of its success at scale.

Nicholas Bloom, Renata Lemos, Raffaella Sadun, John Van Reenen, 07 December 2014

Schools with greater autonomy often perform well, but there is disagreement over whether this is due to better management or cherry-picking of students. Based on interviews with over 1,800 head teachers, this column finds that management quality is strongly correlated with pupil performance. Autonomous schools have better management, and this result does not appear to be driven by pupil composition or other observable factors. However, autonomy for head teachers is not enough – accountability to school governors is also needed.

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