The Walton-funded Center for Research on Education Outcomes published a study containing a finding that almost everyone knew:

The strategy of closing schools because of their test scores disproportionately affects children of color.

A little less than half of displaced closure students landed in better schools.

• Closures of low-performing schools were prevalent but not evenly distributed.

• In both the charter and traditional public school sectors, low-performing schools with a larger share
of black and Hispanic students were more likely to be closed than similarly performing schools with a
smaller share of disadvantaged minority students.

• Low-performing schools that were eventually closed exhibited clear signs of weakness in the years
leading to closure compared to other low-performing schools.

•The quality of the receiving school made a significant difference in post-closure student outcomes. Closure
students who attended better schools post-closure tended to make greater academic gains than did their
peers from not-closed low-performing schools in the same sector, while those ending up in worse or
equivalent schools had weaker academic growth than their peers in comparable low-performing settings.

• The number of charter closures was smaller than that of traditional public school closures, however, the percentage of low-performing schools getting closed was higher in the charter sector than in the traditional public school sector.

Peter Greene wrote about this study here. Peter asks: The staggering bottom line here remains– we are closing schools that serve black, brown and poor students because they serve black, brown and poor students. How is that even remotely okay?

Steven Singer wrote about it here.

This was Steven’s takeaway:

If Sally moves to School B after School A is closed, her success is significantly affected by the quality of her new educational institution. Students who moved to schools that suffered from the same structural deficiencies and chronic underfunding as did their original alma mater, did not improve. But students who moved to schools that were overflowing with resources, smaller class sizes, etc. did better. However, the latter rarely happened. Displaced students almost always ended up at schools that were just about as neglected as their original institution.

Even in the fleeting instances where students traded up, researchers noted that the difference between School A and B had to be massive for students to experience positive results.

Does that mean school closures can be a constructive reform strategy?

No. It only supports the obvious fact that increasing resources and providing equitable funding can help improve student achievement. It doesn’t justify killing struggling schools. It justifies saving them.

This study leaves the observer to wonder why so much money was spent by Arne Duncan, Michael Bloomberg, and Rahm Emanuel to disrupt schools instead of investing in improving them with proven strategies like class-size reduction?