School Choice and School Improvement brings together a collection of exemplary, policy-relevant papers that examine how communities, districts, and states use choice as a strategy for improving schools and student learning.

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Quasi-market in education, school competition, freedom of choice

What a gift for the inquisitive reader on school choice! The variety of topics and willingness of the authors to ponder what has been learned from the evidence is in stark contrast to the usual ideological lectures and interpretation. The reader will learn much about current policy questions and answers, and the further questions that arise from the evidence. (Henry M. Levin, William Heard Kilpatrick Professor of Economics and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University)

Mark Berends, Marisa Cannata, and Ellen B. Goldring, eds., School Choice and School Improvement, (Cambridge, MA : Harvard Education Press, March 2011). Paper, 304 PagesISBN-13 : 978-1-934742-52-5Price : $29.95

In this ambitious compendium, authors pull together school-choice research as it pertains to student outcomes ; parent choice ; and competition and segregation effects. Through its chapters, the volume does a mighty fine job answering some tough questions relating to school choice : Do charters cream ? Do vouchers in D.C. work ? What criteria do parents use when choosing a school ? Do students availing themselves of choice programs experience greater achievement in their new schools ? Researchers of various stripes, including Paul Peterson and John Witte, pull data from Indianapolis to the Netherlands. The bottom line : We’re headed in the right direction—but there’s a lot we could do better. To that end, School Choice and School Improvement calls out some of the hang-ups in the school-choice movement (the underwhelming effects of intradistrict transfer being one and high school application processes that derail some would-be school-choice students being another). It also gives some practical advice (e.g. : how to disseminate school information to parents). This volume offers a balanced, above-the-fray look at look the current realities and future possibilities of choice in our schools.


About the Editors

Mark Berends is professor of sociology, director of the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Research on Educational Opportunity, and director of the National Center on School Choice. Marisa Cannata is a senior research associate in the department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations and associate director of the National Center on School Choice at Vanderbilt University. Ellen B. Goldring is Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Education Policy and Leadership and chair of the Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations at Vanderbilt University