Roland G. Fryer and Will Dobbie are economists who study charter schools, among other topics. Fryer’s research has been subsidized heavily by Eli Broad. For several years, he studied the value of incentives in getting students to post higher test scores or read more books.

Most recently Fryer of Harvard and Dobbie of Princeton posted a working paper about the outcomes of charter schools in Texas, which they originally posted in 206. The results are sobering for those who are selling charters as a replacement for public schools, overpromising the benefits of entrepreneurship.

The abstract summarizes their findings:

“We estimate the impact of charter schools on early-life labor market outcomes using administrative data from Texas. We find that, at the mean, charter schools have no impact on test scores and a negative impact on earnings. No Excuses charter schools increase test scores and four-year college enrollment, but have a small and statistically insignificant impact on earnings, while other types of charter schools decrease test scores, four-year college enrollment, and earnings. Moving to school-level estimates, we find that charter schools that decrease test scores
also tend to decrease earnings, while charter schools that increase test scores have no discernible impact on earnings. In contrast, high school graduation effects are predictive of earnings effects throughout the distribution of school quality. The paper concludes with a speculative discussion of what might explain our set of facts.”