Disentangling the Timing and Impact of Student Mobility: Evidence from Clark County, Nevada
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Riverfront South/Central (Hyatt Regency Miami)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Although student mobility is a widespread phenomenon across urban school districts in the U.S., the majority of the research on the effects of changing schools focuses mainly on school changes that occur between school years and is correlational due to methodological challenges. Further, few studies have disentangled the net impact of changing schools into effects associated with changes in school quality from those linked to the disruption of changing schools. This paper estimates the impact of student mobility on the achievement of mobile students across the timing of school changes using student fixed effects and propensity score matching. The results indicate that the impact of student mobility varies with the timing of school changes: student mobility between school years was associated with small, insignificant transactions costs of moving whereas moves during the school year were associated with large, significant transition costs of moving and a -0.08SD decline in math achievement growth. There is little evidence of positive systematic changes in school quality regardless of the timing of student mobility. The disruptive effect of student mobility appears to be the driving factor of the overall impact of student mobility. The results also imply that even though the reasons for mobility may likely bias estimates from quasi-experimental methods, there may be still an independent adverse effect (especially for mid-year moves) associated with changing schools. Policy implications and directions for future research are also discussed.