School Closure, Good For Kids?

Dan Quisenberry, President, Michigan Association of Public School Academies

School closure can be a contentious topic to consider. Closing a school means displacing families and students as well as teachers and staff. However, a new report on the effect of school closings from Stanford University’s widely respected CREDO Institute concludes that students excel when they move from a low-performing school that has closed to a higher-performing school.

The CREDO study is the first in-depth national research report that looked at what happens to students when their school is closed. The study concluded that when a student moves from a closed low-performing school to another low-performing school, his or her achievement doesn’t improve. But when the student moves from a closed low-performing school to a higher-performing school, the academic gains are significant. Among Hispanic students, for example, moving to a higher-performing school resulted in a gain of 74 additional learning days in math. That’s life changing.

CREDO concluded that more quality school options are needed, and that parents need help accessing those quality options. Quoting from the report, “However, the academic benefit of closure is systematically constrained, as the supply of superior alternatives for closure students is limited and there are systemic access challenges such as parent information and district placement practices.”

Much of this would seem to be common sense, the report points out with hard data the importance of moving all students into quality schools. MAPSA believes that if a school is failing to educate its students properly, it has a moral obligation to help those students move to a better school. The CREDO report shows that it’s not enough to simply close low-performing schools. We need more quality schools, and we need the proper support systems in place to get those students into those schools. MAPSA has worked hard this past school year in helping closed charter schools transition families to higher performing schools elsewhere.

This report made clear what we’ve always known – the quality of a child’s school matters. If you take a student and put him in a bad school, he’s going to fail. If you move him to a good school, he’s going to succeed. It’s that simple. No student can overcome being in a bad school.

Every child deserves a quality education in a quality school. The roadmap to a solution is clear. We need to close bad schools as difficult as it may be, we need to open more quality schools, and we need to give parents the tools they need to find and access quality schools, whatever type of school it is.

Detroit School Talk wants to know if you agree or disagree with MAPSA’s thoughts? Let us know what you think @DetroitSchlTalk on Twitter or on our FB page at Detroit School Talk. @MDOE @MAPSA  @dquisenberrymi

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