Is There Choice in School Choice?
A policy brief and technical report on school program offerings in the New Orleans public schools market
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.