Research Article Open Access

A Typology to Describe School Choice Policy in the United States: Using Cluster Analysis to Categorize States’ Charter School Law Characteristics

William Dabney1, Bret Blackmon2 and Michelle M. Livermore3
  • 1 Carlow University, United States
  • 2 The University of Southern Mississippi, United States
  • 3 Louisiana State University, United States

Abstract

Persistent educational inequality in the United States has inspired various school reform efforts with states adopting a wide variety of charter school laws. This study developed a typology of state-level charter school laws. U.S. states (N = 50) were described and categorized based on characteristics of their charter school laws related to autonomy, funding equity and growth. Autonomy referred to independence from state and local authorities and in teacher hiring decisions, while funding equity included student funding as well as funding for facilities. Charter school growth referred to the state’s ability to initiate and authorize charter schools including lack of cap on the number of charter schools permitted and the existence of an appeal process and multiple charter authorizers. A cluster analysis produced three types of state classifications based on charter school laws that were unique regarding charter school autonomy, funding equity and growth. Support-with-limited-growth states had charter school laws that were supportive of autonomy and funding equity, but not growth. Laws in limited-support states were not supportive of autonomy, funding equity, or growth at high rates. The final type of state, all-supportive, had charter school laws that generally supported provisions in the law that promote autonomy, funding equity and growth. ANOVA and chi-square tests demonstrated significant differences among the state clusters. Results revealed a state charter law typology that can help policy makers and researchers understand and evaluate these changes.

Journal of Social Sciences
Volume 17 No. 1, 2021, 134-144

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3844/jssp.2021.134.144

Submitted On: 17 December 2020 Published On: 19 May 2021

How to Cite: Dabney, W., Blackmon, B. & Livermore, M. M. (2021). A Typology to Describe School Choice Policy in the United States: Using Cluster Analysis to Categorize States’ Charter School Law Characteristics. Journal of Social Sciences, 17(1), 134-144. https://doi.org/10.3844/jssp.2021.134.144

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Keywords

  • Charter School
  • Charter Legislation
  • Charter Laws
  • School Choice