Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Unequal Access Report: Twenty Percent of California's Charter Schools Have Exclusionary Admissions Policies
The ACLU Foundation of Southern California and the Public Advocates have released Unequal Access: How Some California Charter Schools Illegally Restrict Enrollment. Unequal Access reports that over 20% of California’s charter schools (about 253), have exclusionary admissions policies. At least 22 of those schools have policies that expressly exclude low academic performers, the very set of students who are often cited to justify charter creation. Cribbed from the report’s summary:
Although charter schools may be privately controlled and receive non-government funding, they are part of California’s public education system. The California Constitution requires all students to have equal access to educational opportunity, and the state legislature made this principle clear in the California Charter Schools Act, which plainly requires charter schools to “admit all pupils who wish to attend.” Except for limitations due to space, charter schools may not enact admissions requirements or other barriers to enrollment and must admit all students who apply, just as traditional public schools cannot turn away students.
Our review of California charter schools’ reveal that over 20% have written policies reveals that illegally prevent students from enrolling or remaining at their schools because the policies:
- Deny enrollment to students who do not have strong grades or test scores.
- Expel students who do not maintain strong grades or test scores.
- Deny enrollment to students who do not meet a minimum level of English proficiency.
- Discourage or preclude immigrant students from attending by requiring parents/guardians or
- students to provide Social Security numbers or other citizenship information before enrollment.
- Select students based on onerous pre-enrollment requirements such as student or
- parent/guardian essays or interviews.
- Refuse to enroll students unless their parents/guardians volunteer or donate money to the school.
The report recommends that charter school operators eliminate all exclusionary admission requirements that restrict student enrollment on the above grounds.
Thursday, March 17, 2016
UCLA Civil Rights Project: Charter Schools, Civil Rights and School Discipline: A Comprehensive Review
Amid suspicions that some charter schools' policies serve to cull students for minor discipline problems comes a report this week that charter schools still are suspending black students at significantly higher rates than white students and suspending students with disabilities at two to three times the rate of nondisabled students. The study, Charter Schools, Civil Rights and School Discipline: A Comprehensive Review, was released by UCLA's Civil Rights Project and interprets federal data from 5,250 charter schools on out-of-school suspension rates. Among the findings:
- In the 2011-12 school year, 374 charter schools suspended 25% of their enrolled student body at least once.
- Nearly half of all Black secondary charter school students attended one of the 270 charter schools that was hyper-segregated (80% Black) and where the aggregate Black suspension rate was 25%.
- More than 500 charter schools suspended Black charter students at a rate that was at least 10 percentage points higher than the rate for White charter students.
- 1,093 charter schools suspended students with disabilities at a rate that was 10 or more percentage points higher than for students without disabilities.
- 235 charter schools suspended more than 50% of their enrolled students with disabilities.
The report also notes that "lower-suspending charter schools are more numerous than high-suspending charters," suggesting that those school may be using "effective non-punitive approaches to school discipline [that] could help close the pipeline." Daniel J. Losen, the director of the Center for Civil Rights Remedies, told the New York Times that "the report should not be used to generalize about all charter school discipline, because there were also schools that did not suspend students at high rates." The full report, written by Daniel J. Losen, Michael A. Keith II, Cheri L. Hodson, and Tia E. Martinez, is accessible here.
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
On the heels of news that one-third of Louisiana's voucher students are enrolled at schools that are under sanction by the state education department,Tulane's Education Research Alliance for New Orleans released four new studies yesterday on Louisiana's private school voucher program, formerly the Louisiana Scholarship Program (LSP).The four studies were co-authored by the School Choice Demonstration Project at the University of Arkansas and studied students in grades 3-6. The report compared the reading and math scores of LSP voucher students with their public school counterparts, and reported on the effects of vouchers on students' non-cognitive skills, racial segregation effects, and the competitive effects on students in public schools. The report found that LSP voucher students' math and reading scores were initially lower than their public school counterparts, but that the LSP students' reading scores improved somewhat in the second year of study. The study found that had no effect on students' "non-cognitive" skills, including character-building and civic values. Those findings, however, were based on a small sample. Regarding LSP's impact on racial segregation, researchers found a reduction in traditional public schools’ racial segregation levels" with "no discernible impact on private schools." Finally, the researchers found that public schools either showed no or modest competitive effects in response to competition from the LSP, "particularly in those schools that experienced the strongest competitive threat." The studies can be viewed here.
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
The Network for Public Education (NPE) has published a report called Valuing Public Education: 50 State Report Card. From the introduction:
The Report Card looks at whether a state's current policies and laws---in six key areas---make public schools stronger or undermine them. This approach stands in opposition to reports released by conservative political organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which generally applaud states for privatizing public education.
The Report Card measures the policies of each State and the District of Columbia on:
- School Finance
- Spending Taxpayer Resources Wisely
- Professionalization of Teaching
- No High Stakes Testing
- Resistance to Privatization
- Student Chance of Success
The school finance portion of the report relies on information in "Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card," by Bruce Baker, David Sciarra, and Danielle Farrie.
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Students of color are underrepresented in gifted programs relative to White students, but the reasons for this underrepresention are poorly understood. We investigate the predictors of gifted assignment using nationally representative, longitudinal data on elementary students. We document that even among students with high standardized test scores, Black students are less likely to be assigned to gifted services in both math and reading, a pattern that persists when controlling for other background factors, such as health and socioeconomic status, and characteristics of classrooms and schools. We then investigate the role of teacher discretion, leveraging research from political science suggesting that clients of government services from traditionally underrepresented groups benefit from diversity in the providers of those services, including teachers. Even after conditioning on test scores and other factors, Black students indeed are referred to gifted programs, particularly in reading, at significantly lower rates when taught by non-Black teachers, a concerning result given the relatively low incidence of assignment to own-race teachers among Black students.
Thursday, October 8, 2015
Researchers at the University of Washington's Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) released “Measuring Up: Educational Improvement and Opportunity in 50 Cities, a study that assessed cities across the U.S. including district- and charter-run public schools. The study examine how well each city’s schools are doing overall and how well they are doing for students from low-income households and students of color, who now make up the majority of America’s public school students nationwide. CRPE reports the following national findings:
- Performance in most cities is flat, with limited proficiency gains and large shares of schools stuck in the bottom 5 percent of schools in their state.
- Students from low-income households and students of color face staggering academic inequities, with limited access to high-performing schools and college preparatory experiences.
- Across the 50 cities, white students were four times more likely than black students to enroll in a top-scoring elementary or middle school.
- Black students were twice as likely to receive out-of-school suspensions as white students.
- Less than 15 percent of all high school students took the ACT/SAT in 30 of the 50 cities.
- Less than 10 percent of all high school students took advanced math classes each year in 32 of the 50 cities.
Thursday, June 25, 2015
Study: No Empirical Support for Common Belief that Minorities are Overrepresented in Special Education
A UC-Irvine-Penn State study released this week refutes some conventional wisdom that minority students are overrepresented in special education classes. The federal government currently requires school districts to allocate funds for early-intervention efforts that are designed to minimize overidentification of minorities in special education programs. The recent study, Minorities Are Disproportionately Underrepresented in Special Education: Longitudinal Evidence Across Five Disability Conditions, suggests that the government's special education policy may be misdirected. The study's researchers found that "minority children were consistently less likely than otherwise similar white, English-speaking children to be identified as having (a) learning disabilities, (b) speech or language impairments, (c) intellectual disabilities, (d) health impairments, or (e) emotional disturbances. Language-minority children were less likely to be identified as having (a) learning disabilities or (b) speech or language impairments." The study's authors explain that the seemingly conflicting empirical studies about disproportionate minority representation in special education is often tied to what disability is being measured. The authors partly attribute this contradictory findings to previous studies failing "to account for potential confounding factors prior to estimating minority children’s risk of being identified as disabled," such as low birth weight, poverty, and state of residence. Other significant factors were obstacles resulting in minority families being less likely than White families to make use of special education services; an aversion by minority families to the stigma associated with disability identification; and less health care access. Instead, the authors' conclude that "federal legislation and policies may be inadvertently exacerbating educational inequities by reducing access to special education services for schoolchildren who are racial, ethnic, or language minorities."
Thursday, June 11, 2015
The American Institutes of Research has released a nine-year study, What Happens When Schools Become Magnet Schools? A Longitudinal Study of Diversity and Achievement (Julian Betts, UC San Diego and Sami Kitmitto, Jesse D. Levin, Hans Bos, and Marian Eaton, AIR). The AIR study found that while there was some evidence that the schools were successful in increasing diversity, there was inconclusive evidence of increased student achievement. The AIR reviewed the performance of 21 elementary schools in 11 school districts from 2002-2011. From the AIR's report, here are the key findings:
- The most concrete evidence of conversion’s effects was a decline in the concentration of minority students in traditional magnet schools. On average, neighborhood schools that converted to magnet schools initially served 84.5 percent minority students, compared to an average of 64.1 percent in their district. After conversion, the percentage of minority students at traditional magnet schools remained virtually unchanged (84.9 percent) while the concentration of minorities in the district as a whole rose to 66.3 percent. Thus, the demographics of the magnet school became more like those of the district—one goal of this type of conversion.
- Achievement in traditional magnet schools was higher after conversion, outpacing district achievement in English language arts (ELA), but not in math. Average ELA achievement in traditional schools went up by an average of 8.1 percentile points, while average achievement in the districts went up by an average of 5.6 percentile points.
- Achievement in destination magnet schools lost ground to their districts over the conversion period. After conversion, ELA achievement in the districts increased by 6.9 percentile points while achievement in the magnet schools changed little, rising just 1.4 percentile points. Average math achievement in the districts rose 8.9 percentile points after conversion while achievement in the magnet schools did not change.
Friday, March 27, 2015
Public Advocates Group Calls for More Transparency and Financial Oversight of California's Charter Schools
Although California law allows its county superintendents to request an "extraordinary audit" of charter schools, a California group argues in a new report that the current law does not provide enough protection against charter school fraud or mismanagement. The Public Advocates, a nonprofit law firm and advocacy organization, estimates in Risking Public Money: California Charter School Fraud, that California could lose more than $100 million to charter school fraud if the state does not reform its oversight of those schools. Below are excerpts from the report's executive summary:
California is home to the largest number of charter schools in the country, with over 1100 schools providing instruction to over half a million students. In the 2013-14 school year, California charter schools received more than $3 billion in public funding. Despite the tremendous investment of public dollars and the size of its charter school population, California has failed to implement a system that proactively monitors charters for fraud, waste and mismanagement. While charter schools are subject to significant reporting requirements and monitoring by oversight bodies, including chartering entities, county superintendents and the State Controller, no oversight body regularly conducts audits. ...
In this report we describe three fundamental flaws with California’s oversight of charter schools:
Oversight depends heavily on self-reporting by charter schools or by whistleblowers. California’s oversight agencies rely almost entirely on audits paid for by charter operators and complaints from whistleblowers. Both methods are important to uncover fraud; however, neither is a systematic approach to fraud detection, nor are they effective in fraud prevention.
General auditing techniques alone do not uncover fraud. The audits commissioned by the charter schools use general auditing techniques rather than techniques specifically designed to detect and uncover fraud. The current processes may expose inaccuracies or inefficiencies; however, without audits targeted at uncovering financial fraud, state and local agencies will rarely be able to detect fraud without a whistleblower.
Oversight bodies lack adequate staffing to detect and eliminate fraud. In California, the vast majority of charter schools are authorized by local school districts that lack adequate staffing to monitor charter schools and ferret out fraud. Staff members who are responsible for oversight often juggle competing obligations that make it difficult to focus on oversight and identify signs of potential fraud and abuse.
Risking Public Money is available here.
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Nearly 3.5 million public school students were suspended out of school at least once in 2011-12.12. That is more than one student suspended for every public school teacher in America. This means that more students were suspended in grades K-12 than were enrolled as high school seniors. To put this in perspective, the number of students suspended in just one school year could fill all of the stadium seats for nearly all the Super Bowls ever played—(the first 45). Moreover, recent estimates are that one in three students will be suspended at some point between kindergarten and 12th grade (Shollenberger, 2015).
If we ignore the discipline gap, we will be unable to close the achievement gap. Of the 3.5 million students who were suspended in 2011-12, 1.55 million were suspended at least twice. Given that the average suspension is conservatively put at 3.5 days, we estimate that U.S. public school children lost nearly 18 million days of instruction in just one school year because of exclusionary discipline. Loss of classroom instruction time damages student performance. For example, one recent study (Attendance Works, 2014) found that missing three days of school in the month before taking the National Assessment of Educational Progress translated into fourth graders scoring a full grade level lower in reading on this test. New research shows that higher suspension rates are closely correlated with higher dropout and delinquency rates, and that they have tremendous economic costs for the suspended students (Marchbanks, 2015), as well as for society as a whole (Losen, 2015).
Monday, February 16, 2015
The Schott Foundation has released its 5th edition of the 50-State Report on Public Education and Black Males. Explaining this focus, John Jackson remarks:
While all lives matter, we cannot ignore the fact that, as this reports once again reveals, Black male students were at the bottom of four-year high school graduation rates in 35 of the 48 states and the District of Columbia where estimates could be projected for the 2012-2013 school year (Latino males are at the bottom in the other 13 states). This fact provides clear evidence of a systemic problem impacting Black males rather than a problem with Black males. Simply stated, while most will say Black lives matter and are important, the four-year graduation results in this report indicate that most states and localities operate at best, and have created at worse, climates that often don’t foster healthy living and learning environments for Black males.
It is widely accepted in policy and administration that you measure what matters. Yet, as we highlight in this report, in most states and localities it is easier to find data on the incarceration rates of Black males than their high school graduation rates, or any other data that reinforces Black males’ positive attributes.
But he also adds:
although this report historically focuses on Black males (and state level data on Latino males), we highlight in each edition the systemic disparities that are identifiable by race, ethnicity or socio-economic status impact all.
A summary of the findings indicates:
Black males graduated at the highest rates in Maine, Idaho, Arizona, South Dakota and New Jersey — each with estimated graduation rates of over 75%. The majority of the states with the top ten highest Black male graduation rates have smaller than average Black male enrollment. New Jersey and Tennessee were the only two states with significant Black male enrollments to have over a 70% Black male graduation rate.
[S]ates with the lowest estimated graduation rate for Black males [include] Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, Louisiana, Indiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Nebraska, the District of Columbia and Nevada, each at 55% or less.
With over a 25-percentage point gap respectively, Connecticut, New York, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Nebraska, Nevada, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have some of the largest gaps between the Black male graduation rate and the White male graduation rates. The majority of the states with the largest gaps are in the Midwest region of the country.
The the full report and supporting materials here.
Monday, September 15, 2014
Last week California’s Attorney General’s office released a report, In School + On Track 2014, discussing high rates of absenteeism in the state’s elementary schools. Contributing factors in the problem of absenteeism, the report notes, are poverty and racial disparities in school discipline. Almost 90% of the elementary students with the most severe attendance problems—those who miss 36 days or more of school per year—are estimated to be low-income. Further, the report notes that racial differences in discipline start early: African American children account for over 40% of all preschool students suspended at least once, although they represent only 18% of preschool enrollment. The Attorney General’s report contains the following key findings:
High mobility students are at greater risk in California given the current lack of statewide infrastructure for tracking attendance. … [S]tudents’ attendance histories are not readily available to a receiving school when a student moves into a new district. Instead, records stay in local siloes, with no modern system to integrate and share information. The lack of information on students’ previous attendance patterns severely hampers prevention and early intervention efforts for students with historically poor attendance, including those the Local Control Funding Formula is expressly designed to assist.
The attendance crisis disproportionately affects disadvantaged students—from higher rates of attendance to greater numbers of missed days of school due to suspensions.
District Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPs) do not reflect many of the increased efforts districts report making to improve attendance since 2013, and do not reflect the LCFF’s intent for districts to prioritize attendance and chronic absence.
Read In School and On Track 2014 here.
Thursday, July 10, 2014
The Education Trust has released The State of Education for African American Students for 2014. It finds widespread opportunity gaps deprive African Americans of many of the school resources and experiences that contribute to academic success. This gap causes African American students’ performance to continue to fall far behind that of white students. The issue manifests itself not only in the lack of courses and experiences available to African American students (fifteen percent of African American high school student attend schools that do not offer any AP courses in the math, English, science, or social studies), but also in the disproportionate way such opportunities are taken away. For instance, African American students are far more likely to be removed from the classroom for extended periods through suspension and expulsion. The report also notes variances across jurisdictions. While “[n]o state is performing as well as it should be African American students . . . wide variations in performance across states show that what states do matters.” Even within states, the variations between different school districts can be drastic, with certain schools “educating African American students to high levels of achievement” and other districts falling short.
The report is not all bad news. It acknowledges progress. In the last twenty years, the number of
Thursday, May 22, 2014
As we remember Mendez v. Westminster, a precursor to Brown v. Board of Education, the UCLA’s Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles released a report this week finding that California students are more racially segregated than ever. The report lists its key findings as
- California has had an extremely dramatic increase in the segregation of Latinos, who on average attended schools that were 54 percent white in 1970, but now attend schools that are 84 percent nonwhite.
- In 1993, black and Latino students were in schools with 52% and 58% poor children, respectively, and no racial/ethnic group attended schools of overwhelming poverty, on average; by 2012, blacks, on average, attended a school that was two-thirds poor children and Latinos a school more than 70% poor.
- Black and Latino students attend schools that on average have more than two-thirds poor students, while whites and Asians typically attend schools with a majority of middle-class students.
- The typical black student in California today attends a school with more than 2.5 times as many Latinos as blacks, thus making them a minority within a school dominated by another disadvantaged group.
- Latino and African-African-American students are isolated in schools with lower graduation rates, less availability of college preparatory courses, the overuse of suspensions and the number of experienced teachers. By contrast, almost half of Asian American students and about 40% of white students attend schools that rank in the top 20% of Academic Performance Index test scores.
- The most segregated of the state’s twenty largest school districts are Los Angeles Unified, Santa Ana Unified, San Bernardino Unified and Fontana Unified (near San Bernardino). School districts that are among the most integrated and diverse are in the Sacramento area and Clovis, in the Fresno area.
- The authors point to these less segregated school districts in California, and stress their value to policymakers seeking models for other communities. The report details a half-century of desegregation research showing the major costs of segregation and the variety of benefits of schools that are attended by all races.
Read Segregating California’s Future: Inequality and its Alternative 60 Years after Brown v. Board of Education here.
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
America's Promise Alliance at Tufts University has released a new study on students who do not complete high school, Don't Call Them Dropouts: Understanding the Experiences of Young People Who Leave High School Before Graduation. Other than in the title and the introduction, the report does not use the word dropouts. In its interview of 200 students and survey results from 3,000 more, it found that these students do not think of themselves as dropouts. The "term does not describe their experience of leaving school. Second, most of the interview participants and survey respondents had returned to school or re-engagement programs to complete their education."
Overall, the study made four major findings:
• Clusters of factors, rather than one event or cause, lead young people away from school. Young people disengage from school because of clusters of factors that affect their lives. There is no single cause driving most students to leave school, nor is there a uniform profile of students who leave school before graduation. Young people who ultimately reengage also do so because of multiple influences.
• Toxic environments. Young people who leave high school are likely to be growing up in harsh environments. That is, they describe surviving violence, being exposed to violence, being affected by adverse health events in their families, or experiencing school climates and policies that are unsafe, unsupportive or disrespectful.
• Yearning for supportive connections. Connectedness to others is both a risk factor and a protective factor for disengaging from school. The nature of relationships with parents, other family members, teachers, counselors, and peers can lead young people toward or away from school.
• Resilience, in need of more support and guidance to thrive. Young people who left school typically bounced back from difficult circumstances. Our data suggest that this resilience is a necessary quality for day-to-day coping, but insufficient by itself for longer-term positive development (what we call reaching up”). In order to thrive, young people require consistent support from people and places that combine caring connections with the capacity to help them navigate around obstacles.
Friday, May 16, 2014
The Advancement Project, which represents a coalition of education and civil rights groups, filed three civil rights complaints this week under Title VI alleging discrimination in Newark, New Jersey, Chicago, and New Orleans. The complaints challenge the racially discriminatory impact of school closures and privatization on children of color. The Advancement Project complaints were filed on behalf of Journey for Justice Alliance (a coalition of community and education justice organizations across 21 cities). In a release about the filings, the Advancement Project stated:
- In Chicago, 50 public schools were closed during the last school year alone. These closures targeted African-American communities, with Black students accounting for only 43 percent of all Chicago students but making up 87 percent of the students affected by the closures.
- With the dramatic rate of school closures and the expansion of charter schools in New Orleans, the city’s Recovery School District has only five remaining traditional public schools and is on its way to being the nations’ first all-charter school district.
- Newark’s public schools have been under state control since 1995, with no local control or community accountability for nearly 20 years. As a result, Newark communities are powerless to stop New Jersey’s plan to close neighborhood schools – many of which are generational schools that fathers and grandmothers of current schoolchildren had attended years before.
Journey for Justice also released a companion report on the real-life impacts of school closings and privatization. Cribbed from its description: the report looks at "the national pattern of school districts setting community schools up to fail through policies including high stakes testing-based accountability systems, and enrollment policies that concentrate the most disadvantaged students in a few schools without providing the needed resources. Once these schools consequently suffer under-enrollment and financial shortfalls, public officials then justify closing them."
Friday, April 18, 2014
The Southern Education Foundation (SEF) released its report yesterday concluding that the “young people placed in the juvenile justice system-predominately minority males incarcerated for minor offenses-are receiving a substandard education.” The report, Just Learning: The Imperative to Transform Juvenile Justice Systems into Effective Educational Systems, Steve Suitts, SEF vice president and author of the study, says that the 70,000 students in the juvenile justice system leave “in worse shape than when they entered, struggling to return to school or get their lives back on track." The report makes the recommendations listed below. Read Just Learning here.
To ensure that youth leaving the juvenile justice system have the skills and education they need to reenter school, find jobs, and become productive members of society, the report urges that states:
- Re-organize programs so that they are designed and operated to advance the teaching and learning of students.
- Set and apply the same educational standards that exist for all students in a state to the schools and educational programs in the juvenile justice system.
- Establish effective and timely methods of testing and reporting on the educational status and progress of every child and youth in the juvenile justice system.
- Develop and implement an individual educational plan and learning strategy-including special education, developmental services, academic motivation and persistence, and meta-cognition-to guide the instruction and services of every student in the juvenile justice system.
- Establish systems of coordination and cooperation to provide a seamless transition of students from and back into public schools.
- Create and maintain data systems to measure institutional and system-wide educational progress and identify areas in need of improvement.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Last week, the American Statistical Society released a report on "Value Added Models" that attempt to assess the effectiveness of teachers. The report would appear to be a word of caution to current policies that rely heavily on students' standardized test scores to evaluate teachers. Rather than misstate the report, I offer its own bullet point summary:
The ASA endorses wise use of data, statistical models, and designed experiments for
improving the quality of education.
• VAMs are complex statistical models, and high-level statistical expertise is needed to
develop the models and interpret their results.
• Estimates from VAMs should always be accompanied by measures of precision and a
discussion of the assumptions and possible limitations of the model. These limitations are
particularly relevant if VAMs are used for high-stakes purposes.
o VAMs are generally based on standardized test scores, and do not directly measure
potential teacher contributions toward other student outcomes.
o VAMs typically measure correlation, not causation: Effects – positive or negative –
attributed to a teacher may actually be caused by other factors that are not captured in
o Under some conditions, VAM scores and rankings can change substantially when a
different model or test is used, and a thorough analysis should be undertaken to
evaluate the sensitivity of estimates to different models.
• VAMs should be viewed within the context of quality improvement, which distinguishes
aspects of quality that can be attributed to the system from those that can be attributed to
individual teachers, teacher preparation programs, or schools. Most VAM studies find
that teachers account for about 1% to 14% of the variability in test scores, and that the
majority of opportunities for quality improvement are found in the system-level
conditions. Ranking teachers by their VAM scores can have unintended consequences
that reduce quality.
Friday, March 28, 2014
A new report by the Civil Rights Project finds that New York “has the most segregated schools in the country.” Weighing the state down is New York City, “home to the largest and one of the most segregated public school systems in the nation.” This was not always the case, says the report. “Forty years ago, school desegregation was a serious component of the state’s education policy, as a result of community pressure and legal cases.” But “[a]round the time of Reagan’s administration, the state moved away from desegregation efforts and instead focused on other practices and policies like accountability systems, school choice, and charter schools.” Today, those policies, particularly school choice, “are exacerbating racial isolation as demographics continue to change.”
The report takes an interesting new tactic on the question of high performing minority schools, the idea of which drives the charter school movement. The Civil Rights Project writes: “Can separate be equal, yes. If measured by test scores, a few resegregated schools show high performance." This point is one that often breaks down discussions about integration, even within the minority community, because some believe that integration policy is a statement that minority schools cannot be successful. Thus, the Civil Rights Project allows that they can (even if inconsistently) and moves on to more important points. It writes, "even if equality can be reached between racially isolated schools, students may never achieve the skills and abilities required to navigate an increasingly diverse nation.” Moreover, 60 years of research demonstrates that integrated schools produce greater academic achievement, higher future earnings, better health outcomes for minority students, reduced racial prejudice, and greater interracial communication skills.
The report argues that school segregation is not inevitable in New York. In fact, the conditions are ripe for integration. There is “a growing diversity of student enrollment in schools and school districts across the state and main metropolitan areas, particularly in urban schools.” Education policy has simply failed to tap into it, instead allowing segregation to persist, if not increase.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Janet Hyde et al. have completed a new meta-analysis of single sex education research, The Effects of Single-Sex Compared With Coeducational Schooling on Students’ Performance and Attitudes: A Meta-Analysis, which was published in the Psychological Bulletin last month. To date, it is the largest and most comprehensive study of its type. Hyde states: "We looked at 184 studies, representing the testing of 1.6 million students in grades K-12 from 21 nations, for outcomes related to science and mathematics performance, educational attitudes and aspirations, self-concept and gender stereotyping. From these, we selected 57 studies that corrected for factors like parental education and economics, which are known to benefit children's school performance." They found that most of schools' claims on behalf of single-sex education are not supported by the research:
- "One claim of single-sex schooling advocates is that, for girls, it will improve math-science performance because they are not mixed with boys who, it's claimed, dominate the classroom. But there is not any advantage, if you look at the controlled studies."
- "The claim that boys do better verbally in single-sex schooling, because they get squelched in a coed setting, did not hold up. And the claim has been made that girls will develop a better self-concept, but again there is no evidence for that."
- "There has been some thinking that this would help ethnic minority boys, but we did not find enough studies covering that topic."
They found the research more consistently showed the harms of single sex-education. "There is a mountain of research in social psychology showing that segregation by race or gender feeds stereotypes, and that's not what we want. The adult world is an integrated world, in the workplace and in the family, and the best thing we can do is provide that environment for children in school as we prepare them for adulthood."
These findings spell legal trouble for the 500 or more districts currently operating some form of single sex education. Supreme Court precedent and federal regulations requite single sex education to be supported by an important government interest. One would be remedying past discrimination, the other improving educational outcomes. Most schools claim the latter, which this study undermines. Nonetheless, a recent story in the Atlantic reports that single sex education has been making somewhat of a comeback. It explores the heated politics on both sides of the issue.