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Education Working Paper
No. 9  April 2005


The Effect of Residential School Choice on Public High School Graduation Rates

About the Authors

Jay P. Greene is a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute's Education Research Office, where he conducts research and writes about education policy. He has conducted evaluations of school choice and accountability programs in Florida, Charlotte, Milwaukee, Cleveland, and San Antonio. He has also recently published research on high school graduation rates, charter schools, and special education.

His research was cited four times in the Supreme Court's opinions in the landmark Zelman v. Simmons-Harris case on school vouchers. His articles have appeared in policy journals, such as The Public Interest, City Journal, and Education Next, in academic journals, such as The Georgetown Public Policy Review, Education and Urban Society, and The British Journal of Political Science, as well as in major newspapers, such as the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.

Greene has been a professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Houston. He received his B.A. in history from Tufts University in 1988 and his Ph.D. from the Government Department at Harvard University in 1995. He lives with his wife and three children in Weston, Florida.

Marcus A. Winters is a research associate at the Manhattan Institute's Education Research Office, where he studies and writes on education policy. He has performed several studies on a variety of education policy issues including high-stakes testing, charter schools, and the effects of vouchers on the public school system. His op-ed articles have appeared in numerous newspapers, including the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Chicago Sun-Times. He received his B.A. in political science with departmental honors from Ohio University in 2002.

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Greg Forster for his valuable assistance on this project.

About Education Working Papers

A working paper is a common way for academic researchers to make the results of their studies available to others as early as possible. This allows other academics and the public to benefit from having the research available without unnecessary delay. Working papers are often submitted to peer-reviewed academic journals for later publication.

 


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WHAT THE PRESS SAID

SUMMARY:
This study finds that decreasing the size of school districts has a substantial and statistically significant positive effect on high school graduation rates, while consolidating school districts leads to more students dropping out of high school. The study indicates that decreasing the size of state's school districts by 200 square miles leads to an increase of about 1.7 percentage points in its graduation rate. The authors argue that these improvements occur because decreasing the size of school districts increases the choice that parents have in the school system that educates their child, which motivates public school districts to compete for students by providing a higher quality education.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

ABOUT EDUCATION WORKING PAPERS

INTRODUCTION

EDUCATIONAL OUTCOMES AND INCREASING PARENTAL SCHOOL CHOICE

CALCULATING GRADUATION RATES

METHOD

RESULTS

CONCLUSION

ENDNOTES

REFERENCES

Table 1: Average Square Miles/District by State

Table 2: Relationship Between Increasing Average Square Miles of School Districts and Graduation Rates

Table 3: Effect of Decreasing District Size to Benchmark Levels for Certain States

Table 4: Effect of Increasing District Size to Benchmark Levels for Certain States

 


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