School Closures and Student Achievement: An Analysis of Ohio's Urban District and Charter Schools

Deven Carlson and St├ęphane Lavertu (Thomas B. Fordham Institute)
28 Apr, 2015

Closing poor-performing schools is an increasingly prevalent strategy for improving public education. And the promise of school choice is based in part on the notion that the educational market will force poor-performing schools to close. However, policymakers know little about the academic impact of closure on the students it displaces. On one hand, there are concerns that forcing students to change schools may lead to substantial achievement losses, as research clearly indicates that student mobility has a negative impact on academic achievement. On the other hand, school closure may result in students switching to higher-quality schools, which could result in superior academic outcomes. Thus, it remains an open question whether school closure ultimately has a positive or negative effect on the academic outcomes of the students it displaces. Displaced students may or may not subsequently attend schools of sufficient quality to compensate for the negative impact of student mobility.