Informing the Debate: Comparing Boston's Charter, Pilot, and Traditional Schools

January 2009
Susan Dynarski, Atila Abdulkadiroglu, Joshua Angrist, Sarah Cohodes, Jon Fullerton, Thomas Kane, Parag Pathak

Findings of groundbreaking study suggest charter school students in Boston outperform their peers at other public schools in Boston. Results for pilot schools were less clear; some analyses showed positive results at the elementary and high school level, while results for middle school students were less encouraging. The study uses an innovative research design based on school lotteries that allowed for a direct comparison of charter and pilot school students with their peers.

The authors thank the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Boston Public Schools, and the Charter Schools located in the City of Boston for providing the data that made this project possible. Bruno Ferman and Simone Schaner provided expert research assistance. We thank Carrie Conaway for facilitating this project from the beginning. Tamara Wilder was instrumental in collecting data from the Charter Schools. We would also like to thank Nicole Deterding, Yuqiao Huang, and June Wang for their research assistance


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