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How School Choice Affects the Achievement of Public School Students

Per Child Funding (PCF), School Choice, School Vouchers

Opponents of school choice often take the view that schools can be “only so good,” so that what some students gain, other students must lose. This view of schools becomes most obvious when issues like “cream skimming” are discussed. The usual argument runs as follows: If the better students leave the regular public schools to attend choice schools, the students who remain in regular schools will be worse off. In fact, evidence suggests that the choice schools created by recent reforms do not cream skim. Nevertheless, cream skimming is a theoretical possibility, and we should care about the outcomes of students who remain in regular public schools, especially in the short term, when regular public schools are likely to contain the bulk of students.

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Caroline M. Hoxby


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