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
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