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Report shows link between economic housing integration and student achievement

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.

One Comment

  1. Jeff S

    April 19, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    I don’t like the way these studies choose their wording. Achievement gaps numbers by themselves are worthless.

    For example. Perhaps what you have really done is lowered the test scores of all the high income children. This would, in effect, “lower the achievement gap” and could be advertised, in this context, as a positive thing. Clearly it was not.

    My point is not to argue against integration, but to argue against intentionally vague statistical reporting. We spend entirely too much time worrying about gaps and not enough time focusing on educating every child to the best of our abilities.