Study recommends positive alternatives to school closings

School closures across the country have nearly doubled since the mid-1990s, with thousands of students being displaced every year, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by CREDO (read about the group), examined school closure data from 1,522 low-performing schools that were closed across 26 states between 2006 and 2013. To date, this has been the most comprehensive data set ever compiled regarding school closures.

Read the Review

The study points out important facts about the fallout of school closings, such as how students of color and low-income students are disproportionately affected and how less than half of displaced students end up in better performing schools following school closure. One thing the report doesn’t do, however, is point out the moral dilemma of closing schools for low-performance.

When low-performing schools close, students and families are displaced, and tremendous stress occurs within that community. Instead of closing schools, policymakers and education leaders need to work with communities to find solutions that ensure all students have access to a quality and equitable education.  More importantly, students, parents, local communities, district and state policymakers may be better off investing in persistently low-performing schools rather than closing them.

Here are a couple of the top research conclusions:

  • Considerations of school closures should take demographics or economic composition into consideration to ensure communities are not disproportionately affected by school closures.
  • There needs to be enough higher performing schools nearby to educate displaced students.

Read the original study, Lights Off: Practice and Impact of Closing Low-Performing Schools.

The review was commissioned by NEPC with funding from the Great Lakes Center.