Temple University Study Finds Charter Schools Improve Nearby District Schools

Charters Have Positive Impact on District School Student Performance, Absenteeism, School Safety, and Instructional Spending

According to a recent study by Sarah Cordes of Temple University, spillover effects of charter schools in New York City have a positive effect on district school students. Students in district schools perform better when charters open nearby: students in these schools earn higher scores on reading and math tests and are less likely to repeat a grade. The closer the schools, the larger the effect.

  • Students whose schools are near charters do better, and the closer the charter school is, the better these students do. Co-location has the strongest effect.
    • Students attending a co-located district school perform 0.08 standard deviations better in math and 0.06 standard deviations better in reading. Students in district schools within a half mile of a charter school perform 0.02 standard deviations higher in both math and reading.
  • Charter schools reduce the percentage of students at district schools who are required to repeat a grade.
    • Students in co-located schools are 1.2 percentage points less likely to be retained, students at schools within a half mile are 1.0 percentage point less likely to be retained, and students at schools between a half mile and one mile from a charter school are 0.6 percentage points less likely to be retained compared to students with no charter school in the neighborhood.
  • Charter schools decrease absenteeism at nearby district schools.
    • In math, charter school entry increases performance among all subgroups of students at district schools except Hispanic students and students classified as ELL, who experience no effects; Asian students only experience a significant positive effect in math in district schools located within a half-mile radius. In reading, Hispanic students experience significant gains, whereas most other subgroups show slightly smaller positive effects.
  • According to NYC school surveys, after the addition of a charter school, parents report significantly higher student engagement and parents in co-located schools also report significantly higher perceptions of school safety.
  • As charter density grows, so do the effects. Students in district schools with three or more charter schools within a one-mile radius perform significantly better in math than students with just one charter in the neighborhood. They are also significantly less likely to be held back.
  • Positive spillover effects are larger if the charter school is operated by a charter management organization such as KIPP, Success Academy, or Uncommon Schools.
  • The addition of a charter school leads to a significant increase in instructional spending in district schools.