Community-driven, technology-guided school rezoning to reduce economic segregation

Can technology help engage families in examining and redrawing school attendance boundaries to foster more economically integrated schools?

Segregation by economic standing has been a longstanding, persistent contributor to inequalities in academic outcomes, in part because school attendance boundaries often reflect neighborhood-level segregation and the unequal distribution of resources. Accordingly, changing these boundaries to reduce economic segregation has been shown to reduce achievement gaps, yet attempts to do so are typically met with resistance, often most vocally from already-engaged, more affluent families. Gillani and colleagues will conduct a qualitative, iterative study with families in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District to explore how a new web-based platform and intentional outreach strategy might help engage low-income families, families of color, and families whose primary language is not English participate in the process through which such policies are developed. The team will conduct iterative design cycles with parent feedback to advance a previously developed community engagement technology platform intended to engage a wider range of families. They will also work with the district and community organizations to recruit families to participate in small-group conversations to understand families’ views around boundary planning for school diversity. Findings could lay the groundwork for studies to support the design of attendance boundaries that foster economic integration and shed light on tools and practices that school districts might employ to facilitate more inclusive community engagement.

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