Skip to main content

Cityscape: Volume 16 Number 1 | Article 3


Housing, Contexts, and the Well-Being of Children and Youth

Volume 16 Number 1

Mark D. Shroder
Michelle P. Matuga

Getting to Better Performing Schools: The Role of Residential Mobility in School Attainment in Low-Income Neighborhoods

Brett Theodos
Urban Institute

Claudia Coulton
Case Western Reserve University

Amos Budde
Urban Institute


This article builds on the two largely separate literatures on school and residential mobility by investigating the dynamic interplay of residential mobility, school mobility, and educational opportunity in 10 low-income neighborhoods that were targeted for improvement through Making Connections, a place-based initiative. We analyzed a person-period dataset spanning the years 2002 through 2010, created from representative samples of families, including more than 2,000 children living in the target areas. Most study children attended low-performing schools, and more than one-half attended schools outside the target area. Children moved schools and homes frequently, but these types of moves were often independent. Ordinary least squares models predicting change in school rank showed that, compared with their less educated counterparts, better educated parents were more likely to experience increases in the rank (as measured by aggregate test scores) of their child’s school. Compared with White children, African-American and Hispanic children more often experienced a drop in school rank. Housing tenure was not associated with change in the quality of schools children attended, but worsened food security was associated with decline in school rank. The variable most strongly associated with improvement in school rank was moving out of the baseline school district, yet most residential moves were not associated with such gains. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of our findings for place-based initiatives.

Previous Article   |   Next Article


image of city buildings