Examining Curriculum Differentiation of Education Management Organizations (EMOs) in 41 States


This study seeks to understand the relationship between observable characteristics of schools operated by education management organizations (EMOs) and their organizational attributes. Most of the prior research on the relationship between EMO-operated schools and neighborhood and school sociodemographic characteristics considers the effect of organizational type in isolation without regard to scale or size. We contribute to the literature by using organizational behavior theory on nonprofit and for-profit sectors to explore how EMOs by sector and size might differentiate themselves from their competitors through instructional or curricular themes. Combining the effect of profit status, large EMOs are more oriented toward traditional curricula, while medium-small EMOs tend to focus on vocational curricula. After accounting for organizational size, the presence of medium-small EMOs contributes to higher odds of nonprofit EMOs and for-profit EMOs embracing progressive curriculum. Controlling for profit status, the presence of for-profit EMOs is more likely to increase the probability of both large EMOs and medium-small EMOs adopting alternative curriculum. To our knowledge, this is the first multistate study of EMO-operated schools that involves a comprehensive examination of differentiated curricula along the dimensions of organizational sector and size.

Publication Title

Peabody Journal of Education