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New Report Released: "Extreme Measures: When and How School Closures and Charter Takeovers Benefit Students"

October 17, 2016

As the national debate about how and when to close schools continues to grow, the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans released a new study that analyzes the impact of school closures and charter takeovers on standardized test scores, high school graduation rates, and college entry rates.

Authors Whit­ney Bross, Dou­glas N. Har­ris, and Lihan Liu will present their find­ings at the Tulane City Cen­ter (1725 Baronne St.) on Mon­day, Octo­ber 17, at 5:30 p.m. CST. A live webcast of the event will be avail­able. The study exam­ines school clo­sures and char­ter takeovers in New Orleans and Baton Rouge from 2008 to 2014. The results vary a lot across cities,” accord­ing to Bross. This tells us that the effects on stu­dent achieve­ment depend on pol­i­cy design and imple­men­ta­tion.” The main con­clu­sion of the study is that clo­sures and takeovers are effec­tive when stu­dents end up in high­er qual­i­ty schools. That might seem obvi­ous,” Har­ris said, but the pub­lic debate about these poli­cies and most pri­or stud­ies have gen­er­al­ly not con­sid­ered this. Some­times edu­ca­tion lead­ers inter­vene in schools that are more effec­tive than they seem, and stu­dents end up mov­ing to schools that are strug­gling even more.” The impact on stu­dent out­comes in New Orleans high schools was pos­i­tive,” Liu not­ed, but in Baton Rouge, these inter­ven­tions reduced the high school grad­u­a­tion rate by 10 per­cent­age points and reduced the col­lege entry rate, as well.” The study sug­gests that the neg­a­tive effects in Baton Rouge are like­ly the result of stu­dents attend­ing low­er qual­i­ty schools after the inter­ven­tions. The research indi­cates that pol­i­cy­mak­ers should con­sid­er not only the impact on stu­dents in the schools when clo­sures and takeovers hap­pen, but also the effects on stu­dents who would have attend­ed those schools in the future. Look­ing at the impact on both groups of stu­dents, we found that the pos­i­tive effects of these inter­ven­tions in New Orleans account for 25% to 40% of the total effect that post-Kat­ri­na school reforms have had on stu­dent achieve­ment,” said Har­ris. When school clo­sures and char­ter takeovers are imple­ment­ed well, there’s a high prob­a­bil­i­ty that these inter­ven­tions will be suc­cess­ful in improv­ing stu­dent out­comes, but they can do dam­age oth­er­wise.” The full report is avail­able here, and a relat­ed report exam­in­ing the char­ter autho­riza­tion and renew­al process­es that often led to these clo­sures and takeovers is also available.