Do School Closings Impact the Educational and Behavioral Outcomes of Displaced Students and Their Receiving-School Peers? Evidence from Philadelphia
Matthew Steinberg

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Pennsylvania

Primary Discipline

Educational Policy
Districts nationwide have increasingly relied on closing traditional public schools to address declining enrollment, fiscal constraints, poorly maintained school infrastructure, and academic underperformance. Yet, there is a limited body of empirical evidence on the consequences of school closures on students’ educational and behavioral outcomes. Recently, the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) closed 30 traditional public schools, displacing nearly 10,000 students. Despite this major change in Philadelphia’s education landscape, little is known about the effect that school closures had on students’ educational and behavioral outcomes. The goal of this study is to produce evidence on the following questions: (1) Did the closing of underperforming schools in Philadelphia impact the educational and behavioral trajectories of students displaced due to school closure? (2) Did the closing of underperforming schools in Philadelphia impact the educational and behavioral trajectories of students in schools that received displaced students? This study employs longitudinal, student-level administrative data to address these questions. While the SDP did not randomly select schools for closure, students were required to change schools due to district-level policy. I therefore leverage quasi-experimental methods to identify the effects of closure-induced mobility on displaced students and their peers, examining changes in student achievement, attendance, and misconduct. The results of this study will inform both the SDP on the impact that closing schools had on students’ academic and behavioral outcomes, and the broader policymaking and research community on the direct effects (on displaced students) and indirect effects (on the peers of displaced students in the receiving schools) of systematically closing traditional public schools in a large urban district.
About Matthew Steinberg
Matthew P. Steinberg is an assistant professor of education in the Education Policy Division at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) Graduate School of Education. He is the faculty methodologist for the Penn IES Pre-Doctoral Training Program, a faculty fellow with the Penn Institute for Urban Research, a faculty affiliate with the Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative, a senior researcher at the Consortium for Policy Research in Education, and an affiliated researcher with the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research. His research explores questions of educational significance related to teacher evaluation and human capital, urban school reform, school climate and safety, and education finance. Dr. Steinberg received his Ph.D. in public policy from the University of Chicago in 2012, where he was an Institute of Education Sciences Pre-Doctoral Fellow with the University of Chicago Committee on Education. Prior to graduate school, he was an investment banker and a New York City Teaching Fellow.

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