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What Happened To Student Mobility After The New Orleans’ Market-Based School Reforms?

A policy brief and technical report by Spiro Maroulis, Robert Santillano, Douglas N. Harris and Huriya Jabbar on the effects of post-Katrina school reforms on student mobility in New Orleans.

Policy Brief Cover

What Happened To Student Mobility After The New Orleans’ Market-Based School Reforms?

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Student Mobility

One argument for school choice is that parents will vote with their feet and move to better schools. This could create competition between schools that allows families to select the options that work best for them and induces all schools to improve. Advocates also argue that school choice will benefit low-income families the most because these families have the least choice and poorest options in traditional public school systems.

To make this competitive process work, students have to switch schools at least some of the time as they seek out better options. Less clear is whether the introduction of choice will increase or decrease mobility overall or change mobility patterns. On the one hand, with choice, families may make better initial choices and see less need to switch schools. Also, when students change households, school choice allows them to stay in the same schools since schooling options are no longer tied to housing location. On the other hand, switching schools becomes easier when schooling options are no longer tied to the neighborhood and this may increase mobility. Since research consistently shows that mobility leads to worse student outcomes, this could have negative consequences for students.