ACRE Research Papers

“Charter Schools’ Impact on Traditional Public School Performance: Evidence from Arkansas”

by Mavuto Kalulu, Thomas Snyder, and Saliou N. Ouattara

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This study estimates the effects of open enrollment charter schools on student performance in traditional public schools in Arkansas. It examines the change in Iowa Assessment scores for first and second graders across Arkansas school districts between the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years. The ordinary least squares regression estimates demonstrate a positive and statistically significant relationship between elementary charter school enrollment and traditional public school Iowa Assessment scores across districts, controlling for relevant factors. Improvements in traditional public schools’ math, reading, and language test scores were greater in school districts that had a larger percentage of students enrolling in charter schools. The most influential impact of charter schools on predicted test scores was in math, where a 1 percent increase in elementary charter school enrollment led to a 0.13 percent predicted improvement in normal-curve-equivalent test scores across Arkansas school districts.

“Can We Simply Raise the Bar on Teacher Quality?”

by James Shuls

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To ensure teacher quality, states require teachers to pass qualifying exams to obtain a teaching license. This study examines whether there is a positive correlation between teachers’ effectiveness and their qualifying-exam scores. Taking advantage of the fact that Arkansas does have some teachers who scored less than the minimum qualifying score, this paper evaluates whether students whose teachers score higher on standardized tests outperform students whose teachers score lower on the tests. The study finds no significant difference in effectiveness between teachers who pass the Praxis I teacher certification exam and those who fail. The implication of Shuls’s finding is that instead of screening out only ineffective teachers, Praxis I exams actually screen out potentially high-quality teachers in Arkansas.

Policy Reviews

“Arkansas Charter Schools: Myths and Facts” 

by Mavuto Kalulu

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This policy review addresses some common myths and misconceptions that many Arkansans have about charter schools in Arkansas. It debunks five of the major myths cited by opponents of expanding access to open enrollment charter schools: (1) Open enrollment charter schools don’t enroll many black or Hispanic students. (2) Education outcomes at open enrollment charter schools are worse than those at traditional public schools. (3) Open enrollment charter schools hire underqualified teachers. (4) Open enrollment charter schools receive more public funding than traditional public schools. (5) Traditional public schools will be forced to shut down because they can’t compete with open enrollment charter schools.


Op-Eds and Commentary

Blog Posts:


“Debunking Charter School Myths in Arkansas”

3 - TITLE ProminentWhat’s the best way to improve K-12 education in Arkansas? “Debunking Charter School Myths in Arkansas” argues that one way to accomplish this goal is by improving school choice through the expansion of open enrollment charter schools. Unfortunately, the debate over expanding access to open enrollment charter schools in Arkansas has been plagued by many myths. This video debunks five of the major myths used by opponents of expanding access to open enrollment charter schools.

“Education Vouchers in Arkansas”

Inter-district transfers of students and expanding charter schools are two ways Arkansas could improve the failing educational system in Arkansas. “Education Vouchers in Arkansas” argues that another way to improve education in Arkansas is by offering school vouchers so parents can send their kids to private schools. This program could improve educational attainment in three ways: increased competition, parental involvement, and innovation.