Can Successful Schools Replicate? Scaling Up Boston’s Charter School Sector

New Findings, School Reform, March 2018

Can schools that boost stu­dent out­comes repro­duce their suc­cess at new cam­pus­es? We study a pol­i­cy reform that allowed effec­tive char­ter schools in Boston, Massachusetts to repli­cate their school mod­els at new loca­tions. Estimates based on ran­dom­ized admis­sion lot­ter­ies show that repli­ca­tion char­ter schools gen­er­ate large achieve­ment gains on par with those pro­duced by their par­ent cam­pus­es. The aver­age effec­tive­ness of Boston’s char­ter mid­dle school sec­tor increased after the reform despite a dou­bling of char­ter mar­ket share. An explo­ration of mech­a­nisms shows that Boston char­ter schools reduce the returns to teacher expe­ri­ence and com­press the dis­tri­b­u­tion of teacher effec­tive­ness, sug­gest­ing the high­ly stan­dard­ized prac­tices in place at char­ter schools may facil­i­tate replic­a­bil­i­ty.