A new study has found that closing poorly performing schools in Ohio has not had any significant negative effect on the displaced students.
Instead, the study, commissioned by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, discovered that students who are taken from a failing school and placed in a new school tended to perform better.
The study looked at traditional public and charter schools in the eight largest districts in the state, all of which have been shut down, writes Catherine Candisky for The Columbus Dispatch.
“The results of this study shatter (the) popular myth that closing schools hurts kids academically,” said Aaron Churchill, research director for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. “Students usually make a soft landing. After closure, children typically end up in higher-quality schools, and they make strong academic progress. … As a tool for renewing urban education, city leaders shouldn’t shy away from closing persistently low-performing schools.”
In all, 198 school closings were reviewed between 2006 and 2012. The closures occurred in 120 district schools and 78 charter schools, affecting around 23,000 students between grades 3 and 8.
The majority of the district schools were closed due to dwindling enrollment, while the charter schools faced closure from financial hardships and poor student performance. In all cases, most of the students who were displaced were black, poor or under-achievers.
According to researchers, three years after the schools closed, displaced traditional school students had gained the equivalent of an extra 49 days of learning in reading and 34 in math. Those who had attended a charter school gained 46 additional days of math, with even higher gains in reading.
Students who moved to the highest-performing schools gained even more. Those who came from district schools gained an additional 69 days of learning in reading and 63 in math, while those from charter schools gained 58 days of reading and 88 days of math.
The gains provided are estimations based on a 180-day school year and the gains that the displaced students were likely to have made at the closed schools.
The study comes right as lawmakers are considering legislation that would boost accountability for charter schools and push for the closure of those that perform poorly.
Currently, it is up to local school officials to decide whether or not to close traditional public schools, while charters can face closure from their operators or the state if they are found to be performing poorly.
“Though fraught with controversy and political peril, shuttering bad schools might just be a saving grace for students who need the best education they can get,” the report concluded.