A new report from the Brookings Institution finds that socioeconomic integration in housing is linked to improved school performance for low income students. The study looked at the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the country and found that the achievement gap between the lowest and highest income students is significantly smaller in socioeconomically integrated metro areas. The report concludes that there are compelling reasons to pursue inclusionary zoning policies that avoid the creation of low performing high poverty schools and their consequent denial of educational opportunity to low income students.
The most intriguing finding is that Wake County stood out amongst all of the metro areas surveyed as having a much smaller achievement gap between low and high income students than expected. After controlling for characteristics such as household income inequality, racial demographics, median income, and the age of the population, Wake County’s test score gap of 14.7 was over 10 percentage points lower than its predicted test score gap of 25.5. None of the 100 metro areas studied exceeded expectations by such a large margin. The only possible explanation of this phenomenon stated in the report is the school district’s history of district-wide socioeconomic integration policies.