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Academic Mobility in U.S. Public Schools: Evidence from Nearly 3 Million Students
We use administrative panel data from seven states covering nearly 3 million students to document and explore variation in “academic mobility,” a term we use to describe the extent to which students’ ranks in the distribution of academic performance change during their public schooling careers. On average, we show that student ranks are highly persistent during elementary and secondary education—that is, academic mobility is limited in U.S. schools as a whole. Still, there is non-negligible variation in the degree of upward mobility across some student subgroups as well as individual school districts. On average, districts that exhibit the greatest upward academic mobility serve more socioeconomically advantaged populations and have higher value-added to student achievement.
This is an update of the August 2021 version of this paper, which was originally published February 2020 with the title "Where are Initially Low-performing Students the Most Likely to Succeed? A Multi-state Analysis of Academic Mobility".
Citation: Wes Austin, David Figlio, Dan Goldhaber, Eric Hanushek, Tara Kilbride, Cory Koedel, Jaeseok Sean Lee, Jin Luo, Umut Özek, Eric Parsons, Steven Rivkin, Tim Sass, Katharine O. Strunk (2023). Academic Mobility in U.S. Public Schools: Evidence from Nearly 3 Million Students. CALDER Working Paper No. 227-0323-3
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