A Descriptive Analysis of Cream Skimming and Pushout in Choice Versus Traditional Public Schools

This descriptive study by Adam Kho, Ron Zimmer, and Andrew McEachin examines whether charter schools, magnet schools, open enrollment schools, and traditional public schools in Tennessee and North Carolina have entry and exit patterns consistent with “cream skimming” (encouraging the entry of high-performing students) or “pushout” (encouraging the exit of low-performing students). The authors define high-performing students multiple ways, as either students with high test scores or students who were not suspended or expelled the previous year; low-performing students are either students with low test scores or students who were suspended or expelled the previous year. They find evidence consistent with cream skimming at magnet schools but not at other types of schools. While the authors find that low-performing students are more likely to exit schools of any type than high-performing students, evidence of pushout is especially pronounced for charter school students who had been suspended or expelled in the prior year.

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