Starting behind: A comparative analysis of the academic standing of students entering charter schools

David Garcia, Lee McIlroy, Rebecca T. Barber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study is to assess if students enter charter schools at an academic disadvantage compared to students who make other types of school-choice decisions, such as transferring between district schools, from a charter to a district school, or staying in the same school. We assess the demographic and academic characteristics of students prior to choosing to attend a charter school in comparison to students who made other types of school-choice decisions and broaden the operational definition of a "disadvantaged" student when exploring differences between charter and district students to include academic achievement prior to entering a school. The analysis is conducted with student-level panel data and a progressive series of ANCOVA models that were estimated using ordinary least squares (OLS) regression. This methodology allows for a comparison of the mean differences in academic achievement among students who made different types of school-choice decisions while controlling for student-level covariates. Students who transferred from district to charter schools had the lowest levels of prior academic achievement compared to students who made other types of choice decisions. When Arizona charter authorizers face the deluge of renewal decisions that are approaching, the quality of education available to the next generation of charter school students is at stake. Renewal decisions will impact what choices are available going forward and, given the comparative academic disadvantage of charter school students prior to entering, those decisions should take into consideration the starting point for students entering charter schools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-216
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Starting behind: A comparative analysis of the academic standing of students entering charter schools'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this