More School Districts Mean Higher Graduation Rates

Check out this study just released by the Manhattan Institute.
According to the press release:
“A new study by Manhattan Institute scholars Jay P. Greene and Marcus A.
Winters finds that decreasing the size of a state’s school districts
leads to substantial improvements in its public high school graduation
rate. Conversely, consolidating school districts into fewer, larger
units decreases a state’s public high school graduation rate.
The results of the analysis indicate that decreasing the average size of
a state’s school districts by 200 square miles would lead to an increase
of about 1.7 percentage points in its graduation rate. This finding is
particularly important for New Mexico, which has the nation’s 6th largest
school districts. If New Mexico decreased the size of its school
districts to the national median, it would increase its graduation rate
by about 9 percentage points, improving it from 65% to about 74%.”
My take: While there are obvious difficulties in reducing district size in New Mexico’s rural areas, the overall move toward more centralization (while calling it “reform”)is counterproductive. Smaller districts mean that it is less costly for parents to move their child from a bad school to a better one, creating an element of choice and competition.
What we need is reform that works.