Effects of Public School Choice on Neighborhood Inequality: Evidence from Los Angeles
Susha Roy

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



Harvard University

Primary Discipline

For decades, school attendance zones have defined neighborhoods: families sort into specific areas to gain access to desired schools. This sorting contributes to residential segregation and socioeconomic stratification. But, as public school choice becomes an increasingly common feature of urban school reform, the tight link between neighborhoods and schools is becoming weaker. Public school choice policies may fundamentally change how families sort into neighborhoods. This has implications for the resulting composition of neighborhoods. My research addresses how public school choice policies shape neighborhoods. I study a public school choice program in Los Angeles that created specific geographic areas within the school district?Zones of Choice (ZOCs)?comprised of multiple high school options. For students living in ZOCs, high school assignment is based on ranked preferences of schools within the zone; for students living outside of ZOCs, high school assignment is determined by residential address. Therefore, the ZOC boundaries delineate areas in which school choice is or is not a required feature of accessing public high schools. I use the introduction of these boundaries, and the variation in exposure to public school choice that they mandate, to assess how families respond to public school choice in their residential decisions. While existing research evaluates the impact of school choice on student achievement, I contribute novel evidence about whether this increasingly common place-based education policy has beneficial side effects on neighborhood-level outcomes. I focus on racial and income segregation because these neighborhood factors are related to human capital development and upward mobility.
About Susha Roy
Susha Roy is a Ph.D. candidate in Education Policy and Program Evaluation at Harvard University. Her research explores how social stratification manifests and persists through the education system and what specific education policies can help mitigate social and economic inequalities. Susha aims to produce research that marries policy-relevant needs with theoretically compelling questions that rigorous, quantitative analysis can help answer. In her dissertation, she focuses on the impacts of school choice programs on stratification and inequality. Prior to her doctoral studies, Susha worked at an education technology company that helped high schools launch computer science programs. She received a B.A. in Public Policy from Stanford University and an M.A. in the Economics of Education from Columbia University, Teachers College. Susha is also an illustrator. Bridging her passion for research and art, her recent artwork features educational depictions of quantitative methods. Susha was raised in Sydney, Australia.

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