Moving low-income families from very poor to less-poor neighborhoods didn’t improve children’s reading or math scores, concludes a follow-up study of the Moving to Opportunity program. Ten to 15 years after moving, children were no more likely to complete high school, enroll in college or be employed, compared to similar children who stayed in high-poverty neighborhoods.
More than 4,600 low-income families in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York received vouchers to move to better neighborhoods between 1994 and 1998. “After moving, the average family lived in a neighborhood with half the poverty rate of its previous neighborhood,” reports Ed Week. “Moreover, the families generally moved to neighborhoods with a third fewer violent crimes than their original ones.” However, most students remained in high-minority and relatively high-poverty schools.
Adults reported better physical and mental health after the move. Children felt safer in the their new homes. Girls were less likely to become obese. But girls did no better in school and boys did worse. Even children who moved before age 6 showed no academic benefits, researchers found.
Low-income parents need more than a safer neighborhood, writes RiShawn Biddle on Dropout Nation. They need school choice and information on how to find quality schools for disadvantaged students, especially black males.