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ERIC Number: ED544198
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Jul
Pages: 10
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
WWC Review of the Report “Better Schools, Less Crime?” What Works Clearinghouse Single Study Review
What Works Clearinghouse
The study reviewed in this paper examined the effect of school choice on the criminal activity, academic achievement, and high school graduation rate of more than 2,000 male middle and high school students in North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district. For the 2002-03 school year, all district students were given the choice to either attend their neighborhood school or to apply to other schools in the district, where admission was not necessarily guaranteed. The intervention group consisted of male middle and high school students who applied to a non-neighborhood school that determined admission by a lottery and won admission to their first choice school. The comparison group consisted of similar students who lost a lottery for their first choice school. The study compared the academic achievement of the two groups 1 and 2 years after the lotteries were conducted, as well as the students’ criminal activity and high school graduation rates through 2009, 7 years after the lotteries were conducted. Using student characteristics that have been shown to be highly correlated with future arrests, the author created a “risk index of future crime” for each student in the analysis sample and used it to divide students into low-risk and high-risk groups. Among all high-risk students, the author reported, and the WWC confirmed, that intervention group students committed crimes with lighter sentences than comparison group students. Additionally, high-risk high school intervention students were arrested for fewer felonies, and high-risk African-American intervention students were incarcerated for fewer days, than students with similar characteristics in the comparison group. There was no difference between the high-risk groups on academic achievement or high school graduation. Among students in the low-risk group, the study did not find any statistically significant differences between the intervention and comparison groups on criminal activity outcomes. The study author did not examine academic achievement and high school graduation for the low-risk group. In summary, the study author found that the introduction of school choice resulted in better outcomes related to criminal activity, but not academics, for middle and high school males who were at high risk for committing a future crime. The intervention and comparison groups were formed by a well-implemented random process. The study had high levels of attrition for one outcome, the 2004 reading score. The study author demonstrated that students in the intervention and comparison groups were equivalent at baseline on reading achievement. Therefore, the analysis for this outcome meets WWC standards with reservations. [The following study is the focus of this “Single Study Review:” Deming, D. J. (2011). “Better schools, less crime?” “The Quarterly Journal of Economics,” 126(4), 2063-2115. The following are appended: (1) Study details; (2) Outcome measures for each domain; (3) Study findings for each domain; and (4) Supplemental findings by domain. A glossary of terms is included. (Contains 1 endnote.)
What Works Clearinghouse. P.O. Box 2393, Princeton, NJ 08543-2393. Tel: 866-503-6114; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Secondary Education; High Schools; Middle Schools; Grade 6; Grade 7; Grade 8; Grade 9; Grade 10; Grade 11
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: What Works Clearinghouse (ED)
Identifiers - Location: North Carolina
IES Funded: Yes