District of Columbia students who left their local schools for other regular public or charter schools outperformed students who stayed in their assigned neighborhood schools in reading and mathematics, according to a report released last week by the Urban Institute, a Washington think tank.
The researchers analyzed data on more than 38,400 students in grades 4-8 who applied for schools outside their residential placement. While 37 percent ultimately attended neighborhood schools, 34 percent moved to charter schools and 29 percent attended other public schools outside their residential zone.
Students who exercised their public school choice option, on average, performed better on standardized tests, were similar in terms of free- or reduced-lunch eligibility, and were slightly more likely to be black compared with those who attended their in-boundary public schools, the report found.
A version of this article appeared in the January 19, 2011 edition of Education Week as School Choice