The Currents Beneath the 'Rising Tide' of School Choice: An Analysis of Student Enrollment Flows in the Chicago Public Schools

Forthcoming in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management

40 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2014 Last revised: 7 Jan 2015

See all articles by M. Irmak Sirer

M. Irmak Sirer

Northwestern University

Spiro Maroulis

Arizona State University (ASU) - School of Public Affairs

Roger Guimera

Northwestern University - Department of Chemical Engineering

Uri Wilensky

Northwestern University - Northwestern Institute for Complex Systems (NICO)

Luis A. N. Amaral

Northwestern University

Date Written: November 10, 2014

Abstract

Existing research highlights that families face geographic, social, and psychological constraints that may limit the extent to which competition can take hold in school choice programs. In this paper, we address the implications of such findings by creating a network of student flows from 11 cohorts of 8th grade students in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS). We applied a custom algorithm to group together schools with similar sending and receiving patterns, and calculated the difference in mean achievement between a student's attended and assigned high schools. For all identified school groupings, we found that the students were on average moving to higher achieving schools. We also found that the movement towards higher achieving schools of the top achievement quartile of students was over twice as large as that of the bottom quartile, but that the flows of both the highest and lowest achieving student quartiles were towards higher achieving destinations. Our results suggest that student movements in CPS between the years of 2001-2005 were consistent with creating market pressure for improvement as well as increasing segregation by achievement. However, further research into how schools responded to those movements is required to make inferences about the level or consequences of competition generated by choice-related reforms during that time.

Suggested Citation

Sirer, M. Irmak and Maroulis, Spiro and Guimera, Roger and Wilensky, Uri and Amaral, Luis A. N., The Currents Beneath the 'Rising Tide' of School Choice: An Analysis of Student Enrollment Flows in the Chicago Public Schools (November 10, 2014). Forthcoming in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2522707 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2522707

M. Irmak Sirer

Northwestern University ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

Spiro Maroulis (Contact Author)

Arizona State University (ASU) - School of Public Affairs ( email )

411 N. Central Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85004
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.public.asu.edu/~smarouli/

Roger Guimera

Northwestern University - Department of Chemical Engineering ( email )

2145 Sheridan
Evanston, IL 60208-1230
United States

Uri Wilensky

Northwestern University - Northwestern Institute for Complex Systems (NICO) ( email )

Chambers Hall
600 Foster Street
Evanston, IL 60208-4057
United States

Luis A. N. Amaral

Northwestern University

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

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