Date of Award

6-1-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Embargo Date

7-16-2017

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Social Sciences

Advisor(s)

Robert Bifulco Jr.

Keywords

School Choice, Segregation, Student Assignment, Unitary

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Abstract

This dissertation is comprised of three essays, which study the impact of student assignment policies. The first two papers investigate the impacts of the removal of school desegregation plans on school racial segregation and on ninth grade repetition rates in the U.S. The third paper examines the impact of the school choice policy in Seoul, Korea on school segregation by academic performance levels.

Over the last two decades, half of school districts that were subject to court desegregation orders in the U.S. were released from those court orders. In response, many school districts modified student assignment plans that had been adopted to integrate public schools. Chapter 1 documents the changes in school desegregation plans and examines the effect of the changes on racial school segregation in approximately 100 school districts. Analysis of student enrollment data from 1988 to 2012 suggests that recent changes in student assignment plans caused a moderate increase in school racial segregation. The results of additional analysis of the types of policy changes suggest that the overall effect on school segregation is driven by the school districts that replaced school desegregation plans with neighborhood-based assignment plans. Districts that replaced race considerations with socioeconomic factors and that expanded school choice options did not experience an increase in school segregation.

Chapter 2 examines the impact of the changes in school desegregation plans documented in the Chapter 1 on ninth grade repetition rates in the same districts. Analysis of data from 1988 to 2012 suggests that the removal of school desegregation plans caused a statistically significant increase in the ninth grade repetition rates of about 0.2 standard deviations. I also find that the impact on the ninth grade repetition rates is driven by the school districts where school segregation was substantially increased due to the changes in desegregation policies. The impact on the ninth grade repetition rate is driven by the school districts where school segregation was substantially increased by the changes in desegregation policies. In addition, I find no evidence that the desegregation policy changes affect student movements from other districts or private schools.

Chapter 3 examines the impact of school choice policy in Seoul, Korea on school segregation by student performance levels. Seoul, Korea replaced random assignment of schools with school choice in 2010. By exploiting the policy change, this paper examines the effect of school choice on student sorting by ability. I find that schools became segregated by student performance levels following the implementation of the school choice policy in Seoul. The results of this paper suggest that school choice increases school segregation by academic performance levels even in a racially homogenous country.

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