Grants and Contracts Details
Among the public policies implemented for the purpose of reducing educational inequality are a set of interventions known collectively as "school choice" programs. These include open enrollment between traditional public schools, the development of magnet and charter school alternatives to the traditional public model, and a variety of publicly funded vouchers to offset the cost of private school tuition. Empirical research on these policies has yielded a mix of positive, negative, and null effects on student outcomes. Theoretically, however, the rationale for such choice programs remains the proposition that students who are able to move to learning environments that best suit their needs will see returns to their choice in the form of academic achievement. An under-examined issue in school choice research is evidence from other literatures linking academic outcomes-and disparities among them-to student mobility between and within particular educational settings. Of paramount interest to policymakers looking toward school choice initiatives to reduce educational disparities is the possibility that the negative effects of student mobility may diminish the positive effect of choosing between schools. Previous studies of student mobility have indicated that half of all students in urban environments may move schools for "non-structural" reasons (i.e. reasons other than meeting a school's terminal grade) within a given three-year time period (Kerbow, Azcoitia and Buell 2003). Many students in these settings make their move within a current academic year (Alexander, Entwisle and Dauber 1996). Among all students, 75 percent make a non-structural move between the first and twelfth grades (Rumberger, et al. 1999). Race, income, family background and prior achievement have all been linked to student mobility, with nearly every extant study indicating negative academic consequences for students who move, as well as students who remain in classrooms with high rates of turnover (Alexander, Entwisle and Dauber 1996; Hanushek, Kain and Rivkin 2004; Ingersoll, Scamman and Eckerling 1989; Kerbow, Azcoitia and Buell 2003; Lash and Kirkpatrick 1990, 1994; Rumberger et al. 1999; South, Haynie and Bose 2007; Temple and Reynolds 1999; Xu, Hannaway and D'Souza 2009; Zimmer, et al. 2009). As the authors of perhaps the most comprehensive study to date summarize, students suffer "psychologically, socially, and academically from mobility (Rumberger et al. 1999, p. vii)." The general quality of the research on student mobility notwithstanding, it has largely been unable to distinguish between different types of movement, most notably the difference between a parent's attempt to move their child from a difficult learning environment, and a more haphazard change resulting from family or other sets of circumstances (Hanushek, Kain and Rivkin 2004 is the prominent exception). In terms of previous studies, the negative effects of mobility are largely associated with the latter concept: mobility as one result of being poor, being a minority and, or, a low-performing student in the first place. The former concept, however, is also widely studied, albeit in a separate line of research: the determinants and-more extensively-the results of affirmative school choice. Few if any previous lines of research have attempted to bring the two concepts together. The overarching theme of this project is an extended consideration of school choice as a special case of student mobility. This represents an important extension of these two literatures because the determinants of unplanned student mobility and willful school choice may be different, or may be similar but may operate on family decisions in different ways, and the results of one type of move-particularly in terms of academic outcomes-may provide policy-relevant insight into those of the other. In this proposal I set three specific aims, each addressed through studying several separate but related research questions. These aims are: 1.) To develop models predicting mobility, including school choice, and to test the implications of these models statistically. 2.) To estimate the effect of mobility and choice on student outcomes, contributing new evidence for the size and direction of these relationships to their respective literatures. 3.) To provide a rich empirical understanding of the characteristics of schools that students are leaving, and those they find elsewhere.
|Effective start/end date||6/15/11 → 9/30/12|
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