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

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  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Engberg, John & Gill, Brian & Zamarro, Gema & Zimmer, Ron, 2012. "Closing schools in a shrinking district: Do student outcomes depend on which schools are closed?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 189-203.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:juecon:v:71:y:2012:i:2:p:189-203 DOI: 10.1016/j.jue.2011.10.001
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Witte, K. de & Ong, C., 2014. "School choice, segregation, and forced school closure," MERIT Working Papers 008, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    2. Michael Dinerstein & Troy Smith, 2015. "Quantifying the Supply Response of Private Schools to Public Policies," Discussion Papers 15-019, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    3. Thompson, Paul N., 2016. "School district and housing price responses to fiscal stress labels: Evidence from Ohio," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 54-72.
    4. Nicolas Grau & Daniel Hojman & Alejandra Mizala, 2017. "School Closure and Educational Attainment: Evidence from a Market-based System," Working Papers wp439, University of Chile, Department of Economics.
    5. Brummet, Quentin, 2014. "The effect of school closings on student achievement," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 108-124.
    6. Beuchert, Louise Voldby & Humlum, Maria Knoth & Nielsen, Helena Skyt & Smith, Nina, 2016. "The Short-Term Effects of School Consolidation on Student Achievement: Evidence of Disruption?," IZA Discussion Papers 10195, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. De Witte, K. & Van Klaveren, C., 2012. "The effect of primary school closures on educational attainments of students," Working Papers 42, Top Institute for Evidence Based Education Research.
    8. Mark J. Chin & Thomas J. Kane & Whitney Kozakowski & Beth E. Schueler & Douglas O. Staiger, 2017. "School District Reform in Newark: Within- and Between-School Changes in Achievement Growth," NBER Working Papers 23922, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. repec:eee:ecoedu:v:59:y:2017:i:c:p:13-28 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Nicolas Grau & Daniel Hojman & Alejandra Mizala, 2015. "Destructive Creation: School Turnover and Educational Attainment," Working Papers wp396, University of Chile, Department of Economics.
    11. Carlson, Deven & Lavertu, St├ęphane, 2016. "Charter school closure and student achievement: Evidence from Ohio," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 31-48.
    12. Richard O. Welsh & Matthew Duque & Andrew McEachin, 2016. "School Choice, Student Mobility, and School Quality: Evidence from post-Katrina New Orleans," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 11(2), pages 150-176, Spring.
    13. Izadi, Ramin, 2015. "The impact of school closures on student achievement - evidence from rural Finland," Working Papers 63, Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT).

    More about this item

    Keywords

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

    JEL classification:

    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy

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