Lauen, Douglas L. (2009). To Choose or Not to Choose: High School Choice and Graduation in Chicago. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 31(3)
School choice reforms have been proposed as ways to enhance efficiency, equity, and effectiveness in education. This study examines the consequences of participating in public high school choice in Chicago, a city with a wide variety of choice programs, including career academies, charter schools, magnet schools, and selective test-based college prep high schools. The analysis uses population-level administrative and survey data on all public school eighth graders enrolled in Chicago to estimate the effect of school choice participation on on-time graduation propensity (i.e., in 4 years). Techniques employed to estimate this effect include propensity score, catchment area fixed effects, and multilevel analysis. Results suggest that there is a modest positive graduation benefit from exercising school choice. There are no racial/ethnic differences in the choice benefit, but low-achieving students benefit less from high school choice than high-achieving students. In addition, students in high-poverty neighborhoods gain less from exercising choice than do students in low-poverty neighborhoods. These findings call into question the extent to which school choice enhances equity for low-achieving students and students in high-poverty neighborhoods.
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
Lauen, Douglas L.