This debate kicked off nearly a decade ago with a study by Sean Reardon, a prominent Stanford education researcher. Using data from a number of different tests, he compared students born in the early 2000s to those born decades earlier. His conclusion was bleak: the difference between students from the highest- and lowest-income families had jumped 30 to 40 percent.
There’s evidence that GreatSchools’ ratings are exacerbating racial segregation, not just within school systems but in the communities around them. “What makes GreatSchools popular is partly that they’re linked to real estate sites, which is partly what makes them dangerous,” says Sean Reardon, an education professor at Stanford University who studies poverty and inequality. “They start to overtly link people’s residential choices to what seems to be a measure of school quality. While that makes lots of sense if it’s a high-quality metric of school quality, if it’s more of a measure of socioeconomic composition of schools, then it runs the risk of creating incentives for more socioeconomic segregation.”
We know from extensive research conducted by scholars across different countries, and especially Sean Reardon, professor of poverty and inequality in education at Stanford University, that money invested in children’s education outside of school (in and of itself) is becoming increasingly important in determining success within school.
Wealthier parents (the wealthiest 20%) spend seven times more per child each year on private education outside of school hours than the poorest 20%. Those who are wealthiest use their private wealth to advantage their children outside the school system through private tuition in Ireland too.
The 2020 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings are unveiled and CEPA faculty and alumni* score high marks on the list. Of the 200 education scholars ranked, 12 faculty and alumni* made the list: Eric Hanushek, Martin Carnoy, Michael W. Kirst, Sean Reardon, Thomas Dee, Caroline Hoxby, Rob Reich, Jason Grissom*, Eric Bettinger, Daphna Bassok*, Eric Taylor*
When we look at our data, there's no school district in the United States out of the thousands and thousands that has even moderately high segregation that doesn't have a large achievement gap.
Earlier this week, Stanford University sociologist Sean Reardon and some colleagues released a report using massive amounts of test-score data to investigate the effects of modern-day racial segregation. After Southern schools were desegregated in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, test-score gaps between black and white students decreased. But with the decline of court-ordered integration, racial segregation in schools returned and has remained at high levels since the 1980s. The question the study set out to investigate is: does racial segregation still matter?
The answer, Reardon and his colleagues say, is yes. School systems that are more segregated have larger achievement gaps, and “their gaps grow faster during elementary and middle schools than in less segregated ones.” But it’s not because of race per se. The real problem, the researchers conclude, is poverty.
Here’s a tale of three cities: Atlanta, New York and Detroit.
In all three cities, there is a high degree of racial segregation in the schools. White students go to schools with relatively few black and Hispanic students. Black and Hispanic students attend schools that don’t have many white students. When Sean Reardon, a sociologist at Stanford University, measures the racial isolation in a quantitative way, he finds that the schools in the three cities are “equally racially segregated.”
But the poverty rates in the schools are very different. In Atlanta, blacks students go to schools with very high poverty rates. The students in these schools tend to come from families whose income is low enough that the children qualify for free or reduced priced lunches, a federal measure of poverty. The white students in Atlanta tend to go to schools with very low poverty rates. In New York City, Reardon finds the same pattern but not to the same extreme. Meanwhile, in Detroit, this pattern isn’t true at all. White and black students attend different schools, but the poverty levels are high in both white and black schools.
“Racial segregation appears to be harmful because it concentrates minority students in high-poverty schools, which are, on average, less effective than lower-poverty schools,” concluded the paper by academics, led by Sean F. Reardon, professor of poverty and inequality in education and senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
The study examined scores from hundreds of millions of tests over the last decade by students in thousands of school districts. Researchers found a “very strong link” between racial school segregation and academic achievement gaps. Every school district with “even moderately high” segregation had a large achievement gap, they found.
Fifty years ago, communities across America began efforts to make school districts more racially integrated, believing it would ease racial disparities in students’ educational opportunities. But new evidence shows that while racial segregation within a district is a very strong predictor of achievement gaps, school poverty – not the racial composition of schools – accounts for this effect.
In other words, racial segregation remains a major source of educational inequality, but this is because racial segregation almost always concentrates black and Hispanic students in high-poverty schools, according to new research led by Sean Reardon, a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Education (GSE).
“The only school districts in the U.S. where racial achievement gaps are even moderately small are those where there is little or no segregation. Every moderately or highly segregated district has large racial achievement gaps,” said Reardon, the Professor of Poverty and Inequality at Stanford GSE. “But it’s not the racial composition of the schools that matters. What matters is when black or Hispanic students are concentrated in high-poverty schools in a district.”