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As noted in our conceptual framework, nonstructural moves include a set that is voluntary and strategic (likely to improve performance) and another set that is involuntary and unplanned (likely to harm performance). Although we have no direct data on parental motivation, we further probe the hypothesis that strategic moves are likely to differ from unplanned moves by dividing nonstructural moves into (1) articulated moves, made to allow a student to begin his next school on time, which are arguably more likely to reflect strategic behavior, and (2) nonarticulated moves, where a student joins the new school mid–grade span, which are arguably more likely to be made in reaction to some sudden change in circumstance. Using multiple specifications, we find results consistent with these predictions (see table 6). Articulated moves appear to have large, positive, medium-term effects in ELA (0.173–0.229) and no effects in math. Further, students experience no differential impact in the year of the articulated move itself. Nonarticulated moves, by contrast tend to have little significant effect on performance (and in fact many of the coefficients are large and negative, although insignificant). This suggests that there is a particular set of nonstructural moves (articulated moves) that is likely to be beneficial to student performance, and, importantly, this is the set of moves most likely to reflect strategic behavior on the part of parents.

Table 6. 
Instrumental Variable Regression Results, Robustness, Articulated versus Nonarticulated Moves, ELA and Math Exams
ELAMath
(1)(2)(3)(4)
Post-summer move     
Structural −0.046* −0.048*** −0.136*** −0.177*** 
 (0.027) (0.018) (0.048) (0.024) 
Non-structural     
Articulated 0.229** 0.173** 0.063 0.022 
 (0.102) (0.084) (0.170) (0.113) 
Nonarticulated −0.128 −0.236 2.590*** −0.564 
 (0.611) (0.386) (0.998) (0.466) 
Summer move in year t     
Structural −0.072*** −0.051*** 0.062* −0.000 
 (0.023) (0.015) (0.034) (0.015) 
Nonstructural     
Articulated −0.202 −0.036 0.888** 0.052 
 (0.212) (0.073) (0.347) (0.076) 
Nonarticulated 0.281 0.145 −0.584** 0.226 
 (0.202) (0.162) (0.284) (0.168) 
Instruments     
Building Sale 
Terminal and entry grade     
Quadratic 
Nonparametric 
Observations 342,685 342,685 343,832 343,832 
Unique students 88,241 88,241 88,254 88,254 
ELAMath
(1)(2)(3)(4)
Post-summer move     
Structural −0.046* −0.048*** −0.136*** −0.177*** 
 (0.027) (0.018) (0.048) (0.024) 
Non-structural     
Articulated 0.229** 0.173** 0.063 0.022 
 (0.102) (0.084) (0.170) (0.113) 
Nonarticulated −0.128 −0.236 2.590*** −0.564 
 (0.611) (0.386) (0.998) (0.466) 
Summer move in year t     
Structural −0.072*** −0.051*** 0.062* −0.000 
 (0.023) (0.015) (0.034) (0.015) 
Nonstructural     
Articulated −0.202 −0.036 0.888** 0.052 
 (0.212) (0.073) (0.347) (0.076) 
Nonarticulated 0.281 0.145 −0.584** 0.226 
 (0.202) (0.162) (0.284) (0.168) 
Instruments     
Building Sale 
Terminal and entry grade     
Quadratic 
Nonparametric 
Observations 342,685 342,685 343,832 343,832 
Unique students 88,241 88,241 88,254 88,254 

Notes: Robust standard errors, clustered by first-grade school and middle school by cohort, in parentheses. Post-summer move is equal to 1 in all years after a student moves schools between June and October. Summer moves made after the completion of a terminal grade are structural moves and summer moves made after the completion of a nonterminal grade are nonstructural moves. Move in year t is equal to 1 in the year that a student makes a particular type of move and 0 in all other years. All models include controls for poverty, English proficiency, home language, participation in special education services, mid-year moves, building type, residence borough, grade, and year. Models in columns (1) and (3) use the number of years between a student's grade in t and the completion of the terminal grade of his first-grade school (YearsPre) and this number squared, the number of years between the beginning of a student's grade in year t and the completion of the grade after the terminal grade of a student's first-grade school (YearsPost), and an indicator equal to one in the summer following the completion of the terminal grade of a student's first-grade school (Terminal) as grade span instruments. These models also include the number of years between a student's grade in t and the entry grade of his closest ZIP code (YearsPreMS) and this number squared, the number of years between a student's current grade and when he would have entered the lowest grade of his middle school (YearsPostMS), and an indicator equal to one in the summer before a student would enter the closest middle school if he started on time (Entry). Models in columns (2) and (4) use a vector of indicators that are the interaction between a student's current grade and the terminal grade of his first-grade school (gT) and a vector of indicators that are the interaction between a student's current grade and the entry grade of his closest middle school (ηgE). All models use the interaction between an indicator of whether a student's current building of residence was sold between t − 2 and t − 1 and an indicator for the building type as instruments for school moves.

*p < 0.1; **p < 0.05; ***p < 0.01.

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