The Education Marketplace: The Predictors of School Growth and Closures in Milwaukee

Corey DeAngelis & Will Flanders

Few evaluations have focused on the supply and demand within the education marketplace in a school choice environment. Because traditional public schools are not subject to the same level of competitive pressures as private schools, we expect that measures of school quality—enrollment, academic achievement, and safety—will be more likely to predict closures for private schools and public charter schools than Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). We employ survival analysis using data from private, traditional public, and public charter schools in Milwaukee from 2005 to 2016. Data on enrollment trends, demographics, and academic performance from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction were combined with data from other sources on school safety and closure. Results from our models suggest: (a) enrollment losses drive school closure in all three sectors, (b) low academic achievement only predicts closure for private schools, (c) families choose schools based on academics in all three sectors, and (d) academics and school safety are positively correlated.