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Does grade configuration matter? Effects of school reorganisation on pupils’ educational experience

Helena Holmlund and Anders Böhlmark

Journal of Urban Economics, 2019, vol. 109, issue C, 14-26

Abstract: This paper studies the effects of school organisation on pupils’ school environment, travel patterns and educational outcomes, exploiting a policy change that reorganised Swedish middle school education. The reorganisation induced pupils to remain in small local schools throughout grades 1–9, as opposed to making a transition to large middle schools between grades 6 and 7. The reorganisation had large consequences for pupils’ environments in the affected areas: travel distances to school decreased as well as the school cohort size; the composition of peers became more homogenous; and notably we find a reduction in teacher qualifications and experience. Despite that the previous literature has found that school transitions, school size and teacher experience are important inputs in the education production function, we find no evidence that remaining in a small local school had effects on educational outcomes. We reconcile our evidence using a survey which reveals that Swedish pupils do not perceive large differences in the psychosocial learning environment between schools of different grade configurations. Our results are important in informing policy makers and urban planners of the costs and benefits of different types of school organisations.

Keywords: Grade configuration; School environment; School transitions; School size; Educational achievement (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: H52 I21 I28 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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