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Is There Choice in School Choice?

A policy brief and technical report on school program offerings in the New Orleans public schools market

Policy Brief Cover

Is There Choice in School Choice?

by Paula Arce-Trigatti, Jane Arnold Lincove, Douglas N. Harris, Huriya Jabbar

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One argu­ment for school choice and com­pe­ti­tion-dri­ven school improve­ment is that it might lead schools to pro­vide dis­tinc­tive options for fam­i­lies — and a bet­ter fit between schools and stu­dent needs. For exam­ple, schools might dif­fer in terms of aca­d­e­m­ic theme, instruc­tion­al hours, or extracur­ric­u­lar offer­ings. How­ev­er, where choice and com­pe­ti­tion are accom­pa­nied by oth­er poli­cies such as test-based account­abil­i­ty, the abil­i­ty of schools to stand out from the pack may be less­ened. This brief exam­ines dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion among New Orleans pub­lic schools and finds that New Orleans schools dif­fer­en­ti­ate them­selves on cer­tain mea­sur­able char­ac­ter­is­tics, cre­at­ing an edu­ca­tion mar­ket made up of dis­tinct groups of schools and schools that seem unique. We also com­pare school dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion in New Orleans to oth­er cities.

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