School District Reform in Newark: Within- and Between-School Changes in Achievement Growth

Mark J. Chin, Thomas J. Kane, Whitney Kozakowski, Beth E. Schueler, Douglas O. Staiger

NBER Working Paper No. 23922
Issued in October 2017
NBER Program(s):Economics of Education, Labor Studies

In 2011-12, Newark launched a set of educational reforms supported by a gift from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan. Using data from 2009 through 2016, we evaluate the change in Newark students’ achievement growth relative to similar students and schools elsewhere in New Jersey. We measure achievement growth using a “value-added” model, controlling for prior achievement, demographics and peer characteristics. By the fifth year of reform, Newark saw statistically significant gains in English and no significant change in math achievement growth. Perhaps due to the disruptive nature of the reforms, growth declined initially before rebounding in recent years. Aided by the closure of low value-added schools, much of the improvement was due to shifting enrollment from lower- to higher-growth district and charter schools. Shifting enrollment accounted for 62 percent of the improvement in English. In math, such shifts offset what would have been a decline in achievement growth.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23922

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