The Impact of Neighborhood School Choice: Evidence from Los Angeles’s Zones of Choice Program

Discussion Paper

Christopher Campos and Caitlin Kearns

December 2021

This paper evaluates the Zones of Choice (ZOC) program in Los Angeles, a school choice initiative that created small high school markets in some neighborhoods but left traditional attendance-zone boundaries in place throughout the rest of the district. The researchers study the impacts of ZOC on student achievement and college enrollment using a matched difference-in-differences design that compares changes in outcomes for ZOC schools and demographically similar non-ZOC schools. The findings reveal that ZOC has boosted student outcomes markedly, closing achievement and college-enrollment gaps between ZOC neighborhoods and the rest of the district. The findings also demonstrate the potential of public school choice to alter an important component of neighborhood quality, reduce neighborhood-based disparities in educational opportunity, and produce sustained improvements in student outcomes.