American Sociological Association

The Effects of Gentrification on Neighborhood Public Schools

Gentrification is generally associated with improvements in neighborhood amenities, but we know little about whether the improvements extend to public schools. Using administrative data (from spring 1993 to spring 2004) from the third largest school district in the United States, we examine the relationships between gentrification and school‐level student math and reading achievement, and whether changes in the composition of the student body account for any changes in achievement. After testing several alternative specifications of gentrification, we find that, in Chicago, gentrification has little effect on neighborhood public schools. Neighborhood public schools experience essentially no aggregate academic benefit from the socioeconomic changes occurring around them. Furthermore, they may even experience marginal harm, as the neighborhood skews toward higher income residents. For the individual student, starting first grade in a school located in a gentrifying neighborhood has no association with the relative growth rate of their test scores over their elementary school years.


Micere Keels, Julia Burdick-Will, and Sara Keene





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