Does School Choice Mean Students Attend Better Schools? The Case of Post–Hurricane Katrina New Orleans
Jun 22, 2017
Evidence from Post-Katrina New Orleans
Published in: Education Finance and Policy, 2015
Posted on RAND.org on November 24, 2015
In recent decades, school choice policies predicated on student mobility have gained prominence as urban districts address chronically low-performing schools. However, scholars have highlighted equity concerns related to choice policies. The case of post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans provides an opportunity to examine student mobility patterns in a choice-based district. This paper analyzes student mobility between and within the various sectors and school types using a multinomial framework. We find rates of student mobility in post-Katrina New Orleans to be similar to other traditional urban school districts. Overall, our results indicate that high-achieving students switch to high quality schools while low-achieving students transfer to low quality schools. It is clear some students are taking advantage of the ability to choose a high quality educational option, while many students are still not. Policy implications, especially for education policy makers implementing or considering school choice policies, and areas for future research are discussed.