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.

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