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Academic Mobility in U.S. Public Schools: Evidence from Nearly 3 Million Students
There is empirical evidence of substantial heterogeneity in economic mobility across geographic areas and the efficacy of schools has been suggested as an explanatory factor. Using administrative microdata from seven states covering nearly 3 million students, we explore the potential role of schools in promoting economic mobility by estimating cross-district 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 schooling careers. We show that there exists considerable heterogeneity in academic mobility across school districts. However, after aggregating our district-level measures of academic mobility to the commuting-zone level and merging them with geographically matched external estimates of economic mobility, we find little scope for geographic differences in academic mobility to meaningfully account for differences in economic mobility.
This is an updated version of the paper originally titled "Where are Initially Low-performing Students the Most Likely to Succeed? A Multi-state Analysis of Academic Mobility (Preliminary Draft)", released in February 2020.
Citation: Wes Austin, David Figlio, Dan Goldhaber, Eric Hanushek, Tara Kilbride, Cory Koedel, Jaeseok Sean Lee, Jin Lou, Umut Özek, Eric Parsons, Steven Rivkin, Tim Sass, Katharine Strunk (2021). Academic Mobility in U.S. Public Schools: Evidence from Nearly 3 Million Students. CALDER Working Paper No. 227-0821-2
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