School consolidation, student achievement, finances, school closures
School district consolidation is one of the most widespread education reforms of the last century, but surprisingly little research has directly investigated its effectiveness. To examine the impact of consolidation on student achievement, this study takes advantage of a policy that requires the consolidation of all Arkansas school districts with enrollment of fewer than 350 students for two consecutive school years. Using a regression discontinuity model, we find that consolidation has either null or small positive impacts on student achievement in math and English Language Arts (ELA). We do not find evidence that consolidation in Arkansas results in positive economies of scale, either by reducing overall cost or allowing for a greater share of resources to be spent in the classroom.
McGee, J. B., Mills, J. N., & Goldstein, J. (2021). The Effect of School District Consolidation on Student Achievement: Evidence from Arkansas. Arkansas Education Reports. Retrieved from https://scholarworks.uark.edu/oepreport/77