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Keywords:

  • policy diffusion;
  • charter school

While the number of charter schools has increased rapidly in the United States, few studies have examined whether charter schools are implemented in response to real and perceived educational needs or to political and institutional factors in the education policy arena. Unlike traditional policy adoption and diffusion studies that focus on the state level and use a dichotomous dependent variable—adoption or not—this article focuses on local school districts and uses the number of operating charter schools as the dependent variable. Accordingly, instead of applying event history analysis, this article conducts generalized event count regression to estimate models. Based on a data set that consists of Florida's 67 school districts across a six-year time period, the results suggest that charter school diffusion is more heavily driven by political and institutional factors than by educational needs. The results also demonstrate a dynamic trend of charter school diffusion over time.