The effect of school closures on student achievement : evidence from Houston
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School closures are an increasingly common reform strategy for districts facing declining enrollments and low academic performance. In this study, I examine the impact of 46 closures on the achievement of 6,826 displaced students in Houston between 2003 and 2010, comparing their achievement trajectories to those of a matched sample of non-displaced students. I find that closures are associated with a short-term increase in math achievement; however, displaced students have flatter math achievement slopes than their non-displaced peers. Cumulatively, closures have a relatively small effect on reading achievement. Finally, while closures can benefit students that transfer to high-performing campuses, few students – particularly low-achieving and non-white students – transfer to campuses of sufficiently high academic quality to produce achievement gains.