Getting Beneath the Veil of Effective Schools: Evidence from New York City
Will Dobbie and
Roland Fryer ()
No 17632, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc
Charter schools were developed, in part, to serve as an R&D engine for traditional public schools, resulting in a wide variety of school strategies and outcomes. In this paper, we collect unparalleled data on the inner-workings of 35 charter schools and correlate these data with credible estimates of each school's effectiveness. We find that traditionally collected input measures -- class size, per pupil expenditure, the fraction of teachers with no certification, and the fraction of teachers with an advanced degree -- are not correlated with school effectiveness. In stark contrast, we show that an index of five policies suggested by over forty years of qualitative research -- frequent teacher feedback, the use of data to guide instruction, high-dosage tutoring, increased instructional time, and high expectations -- explains approximately 50 percent of the variation in school effectiveness. Our results are robust to controls for three alternative theories of schooling: a model emphasizing the provision of wrap-around services, a model focused on teacher selection and retention, and the "No Excuses'' model of education. We conclude by showing that our index provides similar results in a separate sample of charter schools.
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Published as Dobbie, Will, and Roland G. Fryer. 2013. "Getting beneath the Veil of Effective Schools: Evidence from New York City." American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 5(4): 28-60.
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