The analysis here focuses on Boston's charter high schools. For the purpose of this report, an analysis of high schools is both a necessity and a virtue. It is necessary to study high schools because most students applying to charters in earlier grades are not yet old enough to generate data on postsecondary outcomes. Charter high schools are also of substantial policy interest: a growing body of research argues that high school may be too late for cost-effective human capital interventions. Indeed, impact analyses of interventions for urban youth have mostly generated disappointing results.
This report is interested in ascertaining whether charter schools, which in Massachusetts are largely budget-neutral, can have a substantial impact on the life course of affected students. The set of schools studied here comes from an earlier investigation of the effects of charter attendance in Boston on test scores.
The high schools from the earlier study, which enroll the bulk of charter high school students in Boston, generate statistically and socially significant gains on state assessments in the 10th grade. This report questions whether these gains are sustained.