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Peer Effects And Attrition In High-Profile Charter Schools

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NOTE TO READERS: After publishing this post, I came across this Mathematica paper: http://www.mathematica-mpr.com/publications/pdfs/education/KIPP_middle_schools_wp.pdf The paper does *partially* address the issues I discussed in the post, at least in the case of the 22 KIPP middle schools included in the report on KIPP performance (which is cited in the post). This "supplemental" analysis doesn't show that peer effects don't matter in these schools, but rather that they do tend to take on students beyond their "intake grades," and that the incoming students are similar to those who enter regular public schools (which would attenuate peer effects). But it also finds that the number of incoming students drops off a great deal beyond the first couple of years offered by a school. This suggests that there may still be peer effects in these schools, but that it "sets in" a little later. Also, it is reasonable to suspect that replacement may be more common in charter middle schools (KIPP and others), since they must accept students coming from elementary schools that vary a great deal in terms of their final grade offered (e.g., K-5, K-6, K-7). I would be curious to see the replacement rates at KIPP elementary schools, and, of course, for other high-profile charter schools serving all grade levels. In any case, I apologize for not having presented such clearly-relevant evidence in the post. MD

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