As charter schools continue their rapid expansion in America's cities, questions related to equitable access to these schools of choice have jumped to the forefront of the policy conversation. Indeed, the proportion of students in charters with classifications that suggest that they are difficult to educate -- such as students with disabilities, those who are not proficient in English, and those who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch -- is often substantially below their respective proportions in traditional ("district") public schools.
This paper uses longitudinal data from Denver to measure whether adoption of common enrollment increased the proportion of disadvantaged students enrolled in that city's charter elementary schools. It finds that Denver's adoption of common enrollment substantially increased the proportion of students enrolling in charter kindergartens who are minority, eligible for free/reduced-priced lunch, or speak English as a second language. Importantly, this paper considers only one specific effect of common enrollment on the charter-school sector. While policymakers should take a more expansive measure of the merits of common enrollment before adopting it, this paper suggests that an effective way to boost disadvantaged students' enrollment in charters is to make applying to them easier.