Housing Mobility and

Student Achievement

The Findings

Enabling low-income children to move to neighborhoods with higher performing public schools dramatically narrows the achievement gap.

The Study

In a RAND Corporation study, low-income students randomly assigned to housing in neighborhoods with low poverty schools cut the achievement gap in math in half.
  • The housing authority in Montgomery County, Maryland randomly assigns low-income families to scattered site public housing units throughout the county--and by extension, to different neighborhood schools.

The Details

  • At the outset of the study, the low-income public housing students were performing well below the average student in the county.

  • By their seventh year in their new school, however, students assigned to low poverty schools  (<20% free lunch population) had cut the achievement gap in half in math, and by a third in reading.

  • By contrast, students assigned to moderate poverty schools still scored as far below average as they had in year one.

"Few educational reforms demonstrate positive effects

of this magnitude."

 Heather Schwartz, The RAND Corporation

A Striking Trend Line

Low-income students assigned to neighborhoods with low poverty schools
cut the achievement gap in math in half over the course of elementary school.

Average Math



Average District Math Score

Assigned to low poverty schools (0-20% free lunch)

Assigned to moderate poverty schools (20-85% free lunch)











Number of Years the Child is Enrolled in the District

Source: Schwartz 2010

Why it Matters

Our approach is designed to deliver even more dramatic results.
Cradle-to-College Model

The RAND study began in elementary school and lasted 7 years. We begin earlier and track kids through college graduation.

Higher Opportunity Neighborhoods

In the study students were merely assigned to low poverty schools. We explicitly target schools performing in the top quintile.

Comprehensive Supportive Services

Families in the study received no supportive services. We provide high touch mobility counseling 

and supportive services.