Using longitudinal data, this study considers school choice patterns by focusing on three primary areas: the achievement gains of charter school and regular public school students; the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) provision allowing students to move from consistently low-performing to higher performing schools; and the relationship between charter school legislation and student achievement.
Results on the relationship of charter school legislation to student achievement indicate that the strength of charter school law has either a negative or no significant relationship to achievement. The research on school choice policy under NCLB finds that students moving from low-performing to high-performing schools in the same district do not benefit from the move, compared with similar students who remain in the low-performing schools. Regarding student achievement and charter school effectiveness, this project reveals that conclusions depend on the statistical methods used to conduct the analysis. The method that appears to be most popular with many researchers suggests that charter schools in this state out-perform regular public schools; however, these findings are suspect, given the evidence that students moving between charter and regular public schools differ systematically from those who stay in the charter sector throughout the 3-year sample period. Thus, charter schools in this state may not be more effective than regular public schools, and may in fact be somewhat worse.