Category: Publications

Just Out of Reach? Unrestrained Supply, Constrained Demand, and Access to Effective Schools in and Around Detroit

Edwards, D. S. (2021). Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis.

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Abstract

Research concerning family preferences for schooling indicates that they value proximity to home as much as academic quality when choosing schools. However, preferences for proximity likely represent inability to access schools farther away from home, especially for disadvantaged students. I test whether distance and district boundaries constrain access to high-performing and effective schools for Detroit students where families choose between intradistrict, interdistrict, and charter schools, as well as an assigned school. I employ a unique data set that includes enrollment records, addresses, and commute times for Detroit residents regardless of where they attend school. Results show that disadvantaged students have little access to the highest quality schools available, specifically those outside Detroit. However, students attend higher performing schools within Detroit.

Over the River and through the Woods: The Role of Distance in Participation in Rural School Choice

Edwards, D.S. (2021) Journal of School Choice.

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Abstract

Although there exists a large body of literature concerning the impacts of school choice policies, few studies focus on the choices of rural students. Using a unique dataset that includes administrative records, geocoded addresses, and commute times for Michigan public school students over 6 years, I describe who participates in interdistrict choice in rural Michigan, where 15% of rural students attend a nonresident district. In particular, I examine the roles of commute time and school closures in choice decisions – two factors that may be particularly salient in rural communities. I find that gaps in participation in interdistrict choice between rural and non-rural districts exist in kindergarten and persist across grades. Furthermore, I provide evidence that students who live farther away from their assigned school have lower opportunity costs to participate in interdistrict choice especially in rural districts. Also, school closures may induce students living farther away from their assigned school to attend a nonresident district in remote rural areas.