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NEPC Review: Did the Emergence of Ohio Charter Schools Help or Harm Students Who Remained in District Schools? (Thomas B. Fordham Institute, March 2024)

The Fordham Institute, an advocate of school choice expansion, has published a report asserting that charter schools have not negatively affected students in traditional public schools. The report includes a methodologically sound empirical analysis but overstates the interpretation of its results. It concludes that the presence of charter schools leads to improvements in traditional schools and, therefore, that “choice” options should be expanded in Ohio. This argument aligns with other advocates’ claims that choice benefits both students in those programs and those remaining in traditional public schools through “competitive effects”—the idea that traditional schools will adjust to marketplace pressure and improve. While there is significant scholarly debate on the extent and nature of competitive effects, the report misuses its limited findings to declare that debate “over.” The competitive effects issue remains unresolved, notwithstanding the report’s summary declaration. Because of its unsupported leap from findings to conclusions, policymakers should avoid using the report to make high-stakes—and costly—decisions that expand choice.

Suggested Citation: Mann, B. (2024). NEPC review: Did the emergence of Ohio charter schools help or harm students who remained in district schools? Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center. Retrieved [date], from

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