New research suggests that kids who win those lotteries for charter schools get more motivated to learn and then do better in the classroom.
“The Effect of School Choice on Intrinsic Motivation and Academic Outcomes” by Justine S. Hastings, Christopher A. Neilson, and Seth D. Zimmerman
Using data on student outcomes and school choice lotteries from a low-income urban school district, we examine how school choice can affect student outcomes through increased motivation and personal effort as well as through improved school and peer inputs.
First we use unique daily data on individual-level student absences and suspensions to show that lottery winners have significantly lower truancies after they learn about lottery outcomes but before they enroll in their new schools.
The effects are largest for male students entering high school, whose truancy rates decline by 21% in the months after winning the lottery. We then examine the impact attending a chosen school has on student test score outcomes. We find substantial test score gains from attending a charter school and some evidence that choosing and attending a high value-added magnet school improves test scores as well.
Our results contribute to current evidence that school choice programs can effectively raise test scores of participants. Our findings suggest that this may occur both through an immediate effect on student behavior and through the benefit of attending a higher-performing school …
To our knowledge, this is the first paper to separatelyidentify this important channel through which NCLB school choice provisions may positively affect academic achievement among low-income and minority students. In addition, we find evidence that attending the chosen school has a large and significant impact on student test scores particularly for the charter school in our sample. … Overall, we add to the growing evidence that shows that schools and school choice can have important impacts on student achievement, particularly for students coming from persistently under-performing inner-city schools.