Ratings-based accountability systems are intended to give parents more information to choose a good school, but a study slated for the October issue of the American Sociological Review suggests poor families who transfer often don’t find better options.
New York University researchers tracked enrollment patterns in the Chicago public schools in the late 1990s, after the district put schools on “academic probation” for poor performance.
Both poor and well-off families were more likely to transfer their students to other schools if their own was put on probation, but poor families transferred at lower rates than nonpoor families. Also, students from poor families more often stayed in the district, ending up in schools that still performed below the district average academically. Students from better-off families were more likely to transfer out of the district or to private schools.Sociologist Peter M. Rich, a study co-author, found schools on probation clustered tightly in areas which were more than half black or Hispanic, limiting families’ nearby options for better schools.
A version of this article appeared in the September 16, 2015 edition of Education Week as School Choice