Moving Across the Urban/Suburban Divide: Student Strategies for Navigating Higher Performing Schools
Anna Rhodes

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



Johns Hopkins University

Primary Discipline

Where families live is still a major determinant of the quality of children’s schools, with significant implications for social inequality and economic mobility. While research strongly points to the detrimental effects of concentrated poverty on academic outcomes for children, scholarship remains limited on whether the same low-income children would fare better if they could grow up in more advantaged neighborhood settings and attend higher quality schools. This study capitalizes on the Baltimore Mobility Program (BMP), a housing voucher program that created dramatic and durable change in families’ neighborhoods and schools. Families who move with the BMP experience large reductions in neighborhood poverty and racial segregation. These significant residential changes are mirrored in children’s school changes. By examining the experiences of these families, this study explores both the process of making a significant change in school context and its effects. Using a mixed-methods approach, this study quantitatively evaluates the effects of the program on students’ academic outcomes using administrative data from the BMP and student level academic data from the state of Maryland. Additionally, this study qualitatively evaluates the process of adjusting to new schools through in-depth interviews with 110 parents and 89 interviews with youth participating in the program. Through these interviews this study examines the strategies students and parents use to navigate these schools and the mechanisms through which this type of school change affects youth.
About Anna Rhodes
Anna Rhodes is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at Johns Hopkins University. Her primary research interests encompass sociology of education, social inequality, and urban sociology. Her research explores the intersection of families’ school and residential choices, and how these decisions affect children’s educational opportunities and outcomes. Her work has been published in the edited volume “Choosing Homes, Choosing Schools.” Her dissertation examines how low-income families moving with a housing mobility program from an urban center to the surrounding suburban metropolitan area navigate the process of adjusting to different school contexts, and the effect of this transition on students’ academic outcomes. She is the recipient of a pre-doctoral fellowship from the Institute for Education Sciences and the Johns Hopkins University Owen Scholars Fellowship. She holds a B.A. from Boston College in Sociology and Philosophy.

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