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Education Working Paper
No. 9  April 2005

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


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Center for Civic Innovation.


EWP 9 PDF (63 kb)


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 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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