One of the most striking findings in the recent study was that students were more likely to transfer from districts with higher property values and lower tax rates to districts that spend more per pupil. For every $100 difference in spending per student, a higher-spending district could expect about 1.7% more incoming transfers.
Such behavior suggests that families avoid higher taxes while benefiting from higher spending on education, the researchers noted.
"If you had two districts, and they had the same test scores, same population density, same minorities, but if one spent a little bit more, they would get transfers in," Welsch said. "I guess parents actually believe that spending leads to better educational outcomes."
In addition, all things being equal, for every 1 percentage point gain in students who score in the advanced category on state tests, a district could expect incoming transfers to increase by 2%, according to the research results. School districts with more extracurricular activities and a smaller percentage of minorities also attracted more transfers, although Welsch said data indicated parents were still interested in sending their children to racially diverse school districts.
It is not a suprise that OE tips students and resources toward districts with higher test scores. The fact that it does the same towards higher spending districts is, in restrospect, also not a suprise. Open enrollment provides parents with a way to enjoy the benefits of higher spending districts while avoiding the higher taxes that living in the district would entail, something that could prove disruptive.