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J Sch Health. 2014 Apr;84(4):221-32. doi: 10.1111/josh.12146.

Can school choice improve more than just academic achievement? An analysis of post-Katrina New Orleans.

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Department of Global Health Systems and Development, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, 1440 Canal Street, Ste. 2200, New Orleans, LA 70112.



Recent evaluations of school choice school reforms have focused on improving academic achievement but have ignored associations with adolescent health and the risk of interpersonal violence. The innovative school choice model implemented in post-Katrina New Orleans provides a unique opportunity to examine these effects.


Using a sample of approximately 1700 students from the 2009 School Health Connection Survey, the relationships between the type of school attended and depression, suicide planning, absences attributable to fears for personal safety, and threats of violence at school are examined. Multivariate regression analysis adjusting for self-selection into the type of school attended-a city-run high-performing school, a state-run failing school, or an independent charter school-estimates the effects of school type on student health.


Relative to students at state-run schools, students who choose to attend city-run schools are less likely to plan for suicide or to miss school because they are afraid of becoming victims of violence. These beneficial effects tend to be larger for students traveling from higher violence neighborhoods. The effects for charter schools are similar but less robust.


Local school jurisdictions that implement reforms allowing adolescents and their families greater freedom in school choice may also improve adolescent health.


adolescent suicide; school choice; violence

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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