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Closing schools in a shrinking district: Do student outcomes depend on which schools are closed?

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Author Info

  • Engberg, John
  • Gill, Brian
  • Zamarro, Gema
  • Zimmer, Ron

Abstract

In the last decade, many cities around the country have needed to close schools due to declining enrollments and low achievement. School closings raise concerns about the possible negative impacts on student achievement, neighborhoods, families, and teaching staff. This study examines an anonymous urban district that, faced with declining enrollment, chose to make student achievement a major criterion in determining which schools would be closed. The district targeted low-performing schools in its closure plan, and sought to move their students to higher-performing schools. We estimate the impact of school closures on student test scores and attendance rates by comparing the growth of these measures among students differentially affected by the closures. We use residential assignment to school as an instrument to address non-random sorting of students into new schools. We also statistically control for the contemporaneous effects of other reforms within the district. Results show that students displaced by school closures can experience adverse effects on test scores and attendance, but these effects can be minimized when students move to schools that are higher-performing (in value-added terms). Moreover, the negative effect on attendance disappears after the first year in the new school. Meanwhile, we find no adverse effects on students in the schools that are receiving the transferring students.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Urban Economics.

Volume (Year): 71 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 189-203

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Handle: RePEc:eee:juecon:v:71:y:2012:i:2:p:189-203

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622905

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Keywords: School closures; Value-added; Low-performing schools;

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References

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  1. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1994. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," NBER Technical Working Papers, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc 0151, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Zimmer, Ron & Buddin, Richard, 2006. "Charter school performance in two large urban districts," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 307-326, September.
  3. Hanushek, Eric A. & Kain, John F. & Rivkin, Steven G., 2004. "Disruption versus Tiebout improvement: the costs and benefits of switching schools," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1721-1746, August.
  4. Ron W Zimmer & Eugenia F Toma, 2000. "Peer effects in private and public schools across countries," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(1), pages 75-92.
  5. Booker, Kevin & Gilpatric, Scott M. & Gronberg, Timothy & Jansen, Dennis, 2007. "The impact of charter school attendance on student performance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 91(5-6), pages 849-876, June.
  6. Rockoff, Jonah E. & Lockwood, Benjamin B., 2010. "Stuck in the middle: Impacts of grade configuration in public schools," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 94(11-12), pages 1051-1061, December.
  7. Lefgren, Lars, 2004. "Educational peer effects and the Chicago public schools," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 169-191, September.
  8. Booker, Kevin & Gilpatric, Scott M. & Gronberg, Timothy & Jansen, Dennis, 2008. "The effect of charter schools on traditional public school students in Texas: Are children who stay behind left behind?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 123-145, July.
  9. Buddin, Richard & Zamarro, Gema, 2009. "Teacher qualifications and student achievement in urban elementary schools," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 103-115, September.
  10. Lankford, Hamilton & Wyckoff, James, 2001. "Who Would Be Left Behind by Enhanced Private School Choice?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 288-312, September.
  11. Philip J. Cook & Robert MacCoun & Clara Muschkin & Jacob Vigdor, 2008. "The negative impacts of starting middle school in sixth grade," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(1), pages 104-121.
  12. Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain & Jacob M. Markman & Steven G. Rivkin, 2001. "Does Peer Ability Affect Student Achievement?," NBER Working Papers 8502, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. De Witte, K. & Van Klaveren, C., 2012. "The effect of primary school closures on educational attainments of students," Working Papers, Top Institute for Evidence Based Education Research 42, Top Institute for Evidence Based Education Research.

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