Working Papers

The Impact of Charter Schools' Entry on Traditional Public Schools: New Evidence from North Carolina[PDF]

[Abstract] Although school choice programs have played a key role in public education reform in the United States for years, the impact of competition between schools on student achievement remains unclear. This study analyzes the effects of introducing charter schools on students at neighboring traditional public schools. Unlike prior work, which estimates the effects at the school level, I examine the impact of charter schools at the grade level by exploiting the fact that charter schools expand their grade ranges over time. By focusing on gaps in grades between charter schools and traditional schools, I define direct impact on traditional-school students in overlapping grades and indirect impact on those in non-overlapping grades. Using student-level panel data from North Carolina, this study shows that the entry of charter schools does not induce any significant indirect impact but generates a positive and significant direct impact on student achievement. Distinguishing between the two distinct impacts and considering both traditional-school and charter-school students, my study finds overall positive effects of introducing charter schools. I also show such overall effects would have been underestimated by 85% in previous studies, since they identify the impact of charter school entry at a moment when the direct and indirect impacts are likely to be mixed. Finally, I argue that the direct impact consists of student sorting effects and competitive effects and, by controlling for unobserved peer characteristics, demonstrate one-quarter of the positive direct impact is driven by the former while three-quarters result from the latter.

The Effects of a Teacher Performance-Pay Program on Student Achievement: A Regression Discontinuity Approach

[Abstract] Coupled with school choice, school accountability has also played a key role in public education reform. Accountability programs are designed to provide useful information to parents and legislators so that they can effectively monitor the performance of each school. These programs typically reward high-performing schools and teachers and sanction low-performing ones. The previous literature on this topic, however, finds conflicting results regarding the effects of incentive bonuses. To further illuminate the behavior of teachers, this paper examines how teachers’ receipt of an incentive bonus affects their future performance. This study presents evidence from a regression-discontinuity analysis of North Carolina’s school accountability program, in which teachers are awarded an additional bonus per year for improving the achievement of their respective students. Results show that teachers who failed to reach an expected benchmark, resulting in no bonus, performed significantly better in the subsequent year than those who reached this benchmark and received a bonus. This finding highlights that the presence of performance-pay incentives affects student achievement in future years by inducing more effort from teachers who failed in the present year. Moreover, the results demonstrate that such impact disappeared once the state government repealed the pay scheme: another indication that teachers actively respond to monetary bonuses.

“To Introduce or Not To Introduce Monetary Bonuses: The Cost of Repealing Teacher Incentives

[Abstract] Teacher performance-pay programs are designed, in part, to solve moral hazard. A series of empirical studies have found that the introduction of monetary incentives for teachers significantly increased teacher effort and student achievement in developing countries, as policymakers intended. However, other studies show that such effects are less clear in the U.S. Furthermore, little is known about the potentially negative effects of removing cash incentives.
    This paper exploits novel legislation in North Carolina, where the state government first reduced (from $1,500 to $750 per year) and finally repealed its teacher incentive bonuses. Using these exogenous policy changes, this study presents empirical evidence that student achievement at low-performing schools (1) significantly decreased after the reduction in bonuses and (2) further decreased after the repeal of the incentive program. These findings illustrate that, once incentives are introduced, reducing or removing them would come with substantial detriment to lower-performing schools.

Work in Progress

“Does Opening a New School Improve Neighborhood Quality? Evidence from Restricted Microdata of the U.S. Census

Estimating Peer Effects on Health Outcomes: A Natural Experiment at a Hospital”

How Does School Choice Improve Student Achievement? An Assessment of School Competition and Student Sorting