Thursday, October 20, 2016
Review of a Recent Study on the Impacts of Charter High Schools on Educational Attainment and Earnings
What is the study about?
This study (Sass, T. R., Zimmer, R. W., Gill, B. P., & Booker, T. K. (2016). Charter schools’ effects on long-term attainment and earnings. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 35(3), 683–706. doi:10.1002/pam.21913) examined the effects of charter high school attendance on high school graduation, college enrollment and persistence, and annual earnings. The study sample included eighth-grade students who attended charter middle schools in Florida from 1997 to 2000. Within this sample, the study authors used statistical techniques to match ninth-grade charter school and non-charter public school students with similar characteristics, including prior academic achievement and socioeconomic status.
Comparing the two groups, the study measured the impact of charter high school attendance on the likelihood of receiving a high school diploma within 5 years of starting high school, enrolling in college within 6 years of starting high school, and persisting in college for at least 2 years. The study also examined the impact of charter high school attendance on maximum annual earnings for up to 12 years after enrollment in eighth grade among those with earnings. Sample sizes for these analyses ranged from 480 to 2,286 students.
What did the study report?
The study authors reported that students who attended charter high schools were more likely to receive a high school diploma, enroll in college, and persist in college. The study authors also found that annual earnings were higher for students who attended charter high schools.
How does the WWC rate this study?
This study meets WWC group design standards with reservations for the analyses of receiving a high school diploma, enrolling in college, and persisting in college, because the two groups were similar on prior academic achievement and socioeconomic status. However, the analyses for earnings do not meet WWC group design standards because larger differences in prior academic achievement and socioeconomic status required a statistical adjustment that was not performed.