Stand and Deliver: Effects of Boston’s Charter Schools on College Preparation, Entry and Choice

Joshua Angrist, Sarah Cohodes, Susan Dynarski, Parag Pathak, and Christopher Walters. 2016. "Stand and Deliver: Effects of Boston's Charter Schools on College Preparation, Entry and Choice." Journal of Labor Economics 34 (2) Part 1.


We use admissions lotteries to estimate the effects of attendance at Boston's charter high schools on college preparation, college attendance, and college choice. Charter attendance increases pass rates on the high-stakes exam required for high school graduation in Massachusetts, with especially large effects on the likelihood of qualifying for a state-sponsored college scholarship. Charter attendance has little effect on the likelihood of taking the SAT, but shifts the distribution of scores rightward, moving students into higher quartiles of the state SAT score distribution. Boston's charter high schools also increase the likelihood of taking an Advanced Placement (AP) exam, the number of AP exams taken, and scores on AP Calculus tests. Finally, charter attendance induces a substantial shift from two- to four-year institutions, though the effect on overall college enrollment is modest. The increase in four-year enrollment is concentrated among four-year public institutions in Massachusetts. The large gains generated by Boston's charter high schools are unlikely to be generated by changes in peer composition or other peer effects.

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