Wednesday, July 27, 2016

School Closures In New York City: Positive Results

Much has been written about the controversy surrounding performance-based school closures, but there has been no rigorous assessment of their impact on student achievement. Does the closure process harm students who are enrolled in a school while it is being phased out? Are future students better-off because a low-performing option has been eliminated?

To explore these questions, researchers studied the 29 high school closures begun between 2003 and 2009 in New York City to determine the degree to which a closure affected a range of student outcomes, including graduation rates, mobility, attendance, and academic performance. The full study appears in Education Next.

The researchers analyzed outcomes for 20,600 affected students: 9th-grade students who chose to stay after a closure announcement, 9th graders who transferred elsewhere, and rising 9th graders required to attend different high schools because of a closure.

The researchers found that for students already enrolled in a school that was later closed, the phase-out process did not have a systematic impact, positive or negative, on their attendance or academic performance. This held true whether they remained at the school throughout the phase-out process or transferred to another high school.

However, he researchers t found that for rising 9th-grade students, the closure of their most likely high-school option led them to enroll in somewhat higher-performing high schools and substantially improved their likelihood of graduating with a New York State Regents diploma.

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