Winning a charter high school lottery in Boston leads to higher SAT scores, especially in math, and increases students’ odds of qualifying for a state-funded college scholarship, concludes an MIT study, Charter Schools and the Road to College Readiness. Charter students take twice as many AP exams and are more likely to pass AP Calculus. They’re more likely to pass the state graduation exam on their first try and to enroll in four-year colleges and universities instead of community colleges.
Lottery winners who attended for as little as one day were compared to similar students who’d tried to get into a charter but lost out in the lottery.
“Because of the age of charter schools in Boston, it is now possible to examine the long-run effects of attending a charter high school in Boston,” said Parag Pathak, co-author of the study and Associate Professor of Economics at MIT. “Our results suggest that attending a charter high school increases the rates at which students pass the MCAS, boosts students’ SAT scores and AP participation rates, and, perhaps most strikingly, raises the likelihood that they will attend a four-year college.”
The study also found that attending a Boston charter school “markedly” increases the rate at which special education students pass state competency exams.
Charter students are less likely to earn a diploma in four years; some need more time to meet school standards. Within six years, 82 percent of charter school students graduate compared with 78 percent of the control group.
The charter schools in the study received slightly less per-pupil funding than traditional public schools.