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A Think Twice Review of:

School Closures and Student Achievement: An Analysis of Ohio’s Urban District and Charter Schools

Think Twice - Jun 16, 2015

Publisher/Think Tank - Thomas B. Fordham Institute

Author(s) - Deven Carleson and Stéphane Lavertu

This report from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute investigated school closures in Ohio for urban district and charter schools. The report found that test scores of displaced district students showed greater gains in math and reading relative to students from non-closed schools and that displaced charter students showed gains in math but not reading. Among the findings of the report, closed schools were attended by greater percentages of African American students from low-income families. Additionally, the report noted that displaced students performed better if they transferred to schools with higher levels of performance.

Reviewer(s) - Ben Kirshner, University of Colorado Boulder; and Matthew Gaertner, Pearson

An academic review of the report finds that, despite the encouraging results, they leave un-addressed core questions about closure policy. National and international media extoled the report’s findings and suggested that closing schools could improve educational outcomes. However, the reviewers caution that readers should not draw strong or straightforward conclusions from the study. The reviewers cited three primary concerns: (1) availability of higher-quality receiving schools that are easily accessible to students ought to be a precondition for a decision to close a school; (2) what counts as a better schooling option needs to be better defined, with the promise of safe, reliable transportation options; and (3) school closure does not provide a lasting solution to challenges associated with economic and racial segregation found in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty. The reviewers primary concern for the report focuses on the ability of parents and communities to make decisions about schools.