New Book: Pivotal Research on School Choice

Author: Bill Schmitt

Does school choice work as a strategy to improve schools and help students learn? A new book co-edited by Mark Berends, a Fellow in the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Educational Initiatives (IEI), considers that question. Titled School Choice and School Improvement, the book from Harvard Education Press explores policies central to the U.S. debate on educational reform. Co-editors are Marisa Cannata and Ellen B. Goldring.

Berends, a distinguished sociologist on the Notre Dame faculty, is director of the Center for Research on Educational Opportunity (CREO) at the IEI. He is also director of the National Center on School Choice (NCSC), headquartered at Vanderbilt University. The U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences recently recognized Berends’ work at the NCSC.


School choice is a general term for policies that make it easier for parents to enroll their children in schools other than the local public school. These include tax credits or vouchers, charter public schools, in-district public school transfers, and support for Catholic and other faith-based schools. School choice, or parental choice, is a hot topic in numerous communities and states.

Many questions have been raised about how school choice operates, what effects it produces, and what lessons can be derived from programs already in place. School Choice and School Improvement provides data and insights to help answer those questions. The book’s content is drawn from papers presented at a major national conference that was sponsored by the National Center on School Choice and CREO.