Duke University study: Income-based school assignment policy influences diversity, achievement

3 Dec

Many educators have long recognized that the impact of social class affects both education achievement and life chances after completion of education. There are two impacts from diversity, one is to broaden the life experience of the privileged and to raise the expectations of the disadvantaged. Social class matters in not only other societies, but this one as well.

A few years back, the New York Times did a series about social class in America. That series is still relevant. Janny Scott and David Leonhardt’s overview, Shadowy Lines That Still Divide http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/15/us/class/shadowy-lines-that-still-divide.html    describes the challenges faced by schools trying to overcome the disparity in education. The complete series can be found at Social Class   http://www.nytimes.com/pages/national/class/index.html

Science Daily reported in Income-based school assignment policy influences diversity, achievement:

When Wake County Public Schools switched from a school assignment policy based on race to one based on socioeconomic status, schools became slightly more segregated, according to new research from Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy.

However, segregation increased much more rapidly in four other large North Carolina school districts that simply dropped race-based strategies and did not attempt to pursue diversity in other ways.

“While we found some decline in the degree of racial diversity associated with Wake County schools after adoption of the socioeconomic plan versus the prior race-based plan, there was significantly less diversity in the school districts that were not using either plan,” said William A. Darity Jr., Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy in the Sanford School.

In addition, Wake County math and reading scores rose slightly and the achievement gap between black and white students narrowed after the switch. In the four other N.C. districts, scores fell among black students after race-based school assignment stopped.

The research was published online in the journal Urban Education on Nov. 27.

“The main message is, we may not want to give up on using diversity-based policies to achieve integration and address opportunity gaps and achievement gaps,” said lead author Monique McMillian. McMillian, an educational psychologist, is an associate professor at Morgan State University in Maryland and an affiliate of Duke University’s Research Network on Racial and Ethnic Inequality….                                                                                                                             http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151130182251.htm

Citation:

Income-based school assignment policy influences diversity, achievement

Date:      November 30, 2015

Source:   Duke University

Summary:

When public schools in Wake County, North Carolina switched from a school assignment policy based on race to one based on socioeconomic status, schools became slightly more segregated but the achievement gap lessened, according to new research.

Journal Reference:

  1. M. M. McMillian, S. Fuller, Z. Hill, K. Duch, W. A. Darity. Can Class-Based Substitute for Race-Based Student Assignment Plans? Evidence From Wake County, North Carolina. Urban Education, 2015; DOI: 10.1177/0042085915613554

Here is the press release from Duke University:

Mixed Results for Income-based K-12 Assignment

Segregation still increased in Wake County plan, but not as much as in other counties

November 30, 2015 |

Durham, NC – When Wake County Public Schools switched from a school assignment policy based on race to one based on socioeconomic status, schools became slightly more segregated, according to new research from Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy.

However, segregation increased much more rapidly in four other large North Carolina school districts that simply dropped race-based strategies and did not attempt to pursue diversity in other ways.

“While we found some decline in the degree of racial diversity associated with Wake County schools after adoption of the socioeconomic plan versus the prior race-based plan, there was significantly less diversity in the school districts that were not using either plan,” said William A. Darity Jr., Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy in the Sanford School.

In addition, Wake County math and reading scores rose slightly and the achievement gap between black and white students narrowed after the switch. In the four other N.C. districts, scores fell among black students after race-based school assignment stopped.

The research was published online in the journal Urban Education on Nov. 27.

“The main message is, we may not want to give up on using diversity-based policies to achieve integration and address opportunity gaps and achievement gaps,” said lead author Monique McMillian. McMillian, an educational psychologist, is an associate professor at Morgan State University in Maryland and an affiliate of Duke University’s Research Network on Racial and Ethnic Inequality.

North Carolina school districts stopped using race-based assignment plans in the late 1990s after a series of court cases struck down the practice in various settings around the country.

In 2000, Wake implemented a new assignment policy based on income and achievement, in which no school would consist of more than 40 percent students receiving free or reduced lunch, nor more than 25 percent of students performing below grade level. (In 2010, the Wake County school board voted to stop using an income-based policy. However, income remains a component — albeit a smaller component — of the current assignment policy.)

McMillian saw the change as an opportunity to investigate how the different policies affect school integration and student achievement.

She, Darity and their colleagues analyzed data from Wake and four other large N.C. school districts: Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Cumberland County, Guilford County and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County. Like Wake, these school districts had previously used race-based assignment policies, but unlike Wake, they switched to a combination of neighborhood schools and school choice.

The researchers analyzed data from 1992 to 2009, including demographic data about schools and students, and 10 years of end-of-grade test scores for third through eighth graders.

McMillian said the study was largely descriptive. It’s not possible, therefore, to say whether the new school assignment policy alone caused Wake’s test score gains or reduced the achievement gap between white and black students. Other factors may have contributed as well, such as changes in other district policies or implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, she said.

McMillian said the study provides “tentative evidence that income-based assignment policies improve achievement and increase diversity.”

—–

CITATION: “Can Class-Based Substitute for Race-Based Student Assignment Plans?: Evidence from Wake County, N.C.” McMillian, M.M.; Fuller, S.C.; Hill, Z.; Duch, K.; and Darity, Jr., W.A. Urban Education. DOI: 10.1177/0042085915613554

More Information

Contact: Karen Kemp

Phone: (919) 613-7315

Email: kkemp@duke.edu

© 2015 Office of News & Communications
615 Chapel Drive, Box 90563, Durham, NC 27708-0563
(919) 684-2823; After-hours phone (for reporters on deadline): (919) 812-6603

People tend to cluster in neighborhoods based upon class as much as race. Good teachers tend to gravitate toward neighborhoods where they are paid well and students come from families who mirror their personal backgrounds and values. Good teachers make a difference in a child’s life. One of the difficulties in busing to achieve equity in education is that neighborhoods tend to be segregated by class as well as race. People often make sacrifices to move into neighborhoods they perceive mirror their values. That is why there must be good schools in all segments of the country and there must be good schools in all parts of this society. A good education should not depend upon one’s class or status.   See, How do upper-class parents prepare their kids for success in the world? http://sandiegoeducationreport.org/talkingtokids.html

Moi wrote about the intersection of race and class in Michael Petrilli’s decision: An ed reformer confronts race and class when choosing a school for his kids. It is worth reviewing that post. https://drwilda.com/tag/class-segregation/ Lindsey Layton wrote in the Washington Post article, Schools dilemma for gentrifiers: Keep their kids urban, or move to suburbia?

When his oldest son reached school age, Michael Petrilli faced a dilemma known to many middle-class parents living in cities they helped gentrify: Should the family flee to the homogenous suburbs for excellent schools or stay urban for diverse but often struggling schools?

Petrilli, who lived in Takoma Park with his wife and two sons, was torn, but he knew more than most people about the choice before him. Petrilli is an education expert, a former official in the Education Department under George W. Bush and executive vice president at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a right-leaning education think tank.
He set out to learn as much as he could about the risks and benefits of socioeconomically diverse schools, where at least 20 percent of students are eligible for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program. And then he wrote about it….

Petrilli said he wanted his son to have friends from all backgrounds because he believes that cultural literacy will prepare him for success in a global society.

But he worried that his son might get lost in a classroom that has a high percentage of poor children, that teachers would be focused on the struggling children and have less time for their more privileged peers.
As Petrilli points out in the book, this dilemma doesn’t exist for most white, middle-class families. The vast majority — 87 percent — of white students attend majority white schools, Petrilli says, even though they make up just about 50 percent of the public school population.

And even in urban areas with significant African American and Latino populations, neighborhood schools still tend to be segregated by class, if not by race. In the Washington region, less than 3 percent of white public school students attend schools where poor children are the majority, according to Petrilli.

Gentrification poses new opportunities for policymakers to desegregate schools, Petrilli argues….

In the end, Petrilli moved from his Takoma Park neighborhood school — diverse Piney Branch Elementary, which is 33 percent low-income — to Wood Acres Elementary in Bethesda, where 1 percent of the children are low-income, 2 percent are black and 5 percent are Hispanic. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/schools-dilemma-for-urban-gentrifiers-keep-their-kids-urban-or-move-to-suburbia/2012/10/14/02083b6c-131b-11e2-a16b-2c110031514a_story.html

Often, schools are segregated by both race and class. Class identification is very important in education because of class and peer support for education achievement and the value placed on education by social class groups. Moi does not condemn Mr. Petrilli for doing what is best for his family because when the rubber meets the road that is what parents are supposed to do. His family’s situation is just an example of the intersection of race and class in education.

The lawyers in Brown were told that lawsuits were futile and that the legislatures would address the issue of segregation eventually when the public was ready. Meanwhile, several generations of African Americans waited for people to come around and say the Constitution applied to us as well. Generations of African Americans suffered in inferior schools. This society cannot sacrifice the lives of children by not addressing the issue of equity in school funding in a timely manner.

The next huge case, like Brown, will be about equity in education funding. It may not come this year or the next year. It, like Brown, may come several years after a Plessy. It will come. Equity in education funding is the civil rights issue of this century.

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

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