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Lights Off: Practice and Impact of Closing Low-Performing Schools

August 24, 2017
By Center for Research on Education Outcomes

Less Than Half of Closure Students End Up In Higher-Performing Schools

From the accompanying press release:

This report systematically examined closure of low-performing public schools in both the charter and traditional public-school sectors. “We looked at the important question of whether children whose schools have been closed for poor performance do better or worse in their new schools. We looked at closure in both charter and traditional public schools. In our view, this question is increasingly important as both charter authorizers and traditional school districts consider whether closure is a good strategy for trying to increase educational opportunities for students,” said Dr. Chunping Han, Quantitative Research Analyst for CREDO at Stanford University.

Key Findings

This study uses data from the 2005-06 to 2013-14 school years across 26 states.

• A little less than half of displaced closure students landed in better schools. • Closures of low-performing schools were prevalent but not evenly distributed.

• In both the charter and traditional public school sectors, low-performing schools with a larger share of black and Hispanic students were more likely to be closed than similarly performing schools with a smaller share of disadvantaged minority students.

• Low-performing schools that were eventually closed exhibited clear signs of weakness in the years leading to closure compared to other low-performing schools.

• The quality of the receiving school made a significant difference in post-closure student outcomes. Closure students who attended better schools post-closure tended to make greater academic gains than did their peers from not-closed low-performing schools in the same sector, while those ending up in worse or equivalent schools had weaker academic growth than their peers in comparable low-performing settings.

• The number of charter closures was smaller than that of traditional public school closures, however, the percentage of low-performing schools getting closed was higher in the charter sector than in the traditional public school sector."