School Choice and Accountability

March 1, 2008

This policy brief explores the intersection of school choice and accountability. Based on a review of research since 1970, the authors first develop a typology of four distinct models of accountability: bureaucratic, performance, market and professional. They both define these and demonstrate how they are embedded in the school choice movement. Second, they examine several school choice options--vouchers and tax credits, charter schools, virtual/cyber schools, home schools and inter- and intradistrict choice--and detail the varied accountability systems inherent in each. Third, they explore the impact of school choice programs on the accountability of traditional district schools. Finally, they provide practical recommendations for policymakers and other interested parties.