School Choice, Racial Segregation, and Poverty Concentration: Evidence From Pennsylvania Charter School Transfers

Our article has been published for Educational Policy and is now available online:

Abstract: This article examines how student movements between traditional public schools (TPSs) and charters—both brick and mortar and cyber—may be associated with both racial isolation and poverty concentration. Using student-level data from the universe of Pennsylvania public schools, this study builds upon previous research by specifically examining student transfers into charter schools, disaggregating findings by geography. We find that, on average, the transfers of African American and Latino students from TPSs to charter schools were segregative. White students transferring within urban areas transferred to more racially segregated schools. Students from all three racial groups attended urban charters with lower poverty concentration.

A quote about cyber charters (p.13)

“In general, the racial distribution of students entering and exiting cyber charters closely resembled the student demographics of the state, but is substantially different from students who transfer to and from B&M charter schools. For instance, African Americans, who constitute around 15% of the state student population, make up about 14% of all students transferring to cybers, but more than 62% of all students transferring to B&M charter schools. In terms of geography, a higher proportion of rural than urban and suburban students transferred to and from cyber schools. Notably, a greater share of urban students moved from a TPS to a cyber (23%) than moved back from a cyber to TPS (16%).”

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