Understanding the Diversity and Equity of a New Generation of Controlled School Choice Policies

How do school choice policies affect the racial and socioeconomic composition of schools?

Research suggests that access to diverse schools is an important educational resource for all students, but especially for students of color. Although a recent Supreme Court decision has prohibited districts from using individual students’ racial identities as factors in assigning students to schools, many districts continue to aim for racial and socioeconomic diversity through other means. Such districts have implemented policies to increase diversity by using the racial and socioeconomic characteristics of students’ neighborhoods in determining whether to grant assignment preferences. Frankenberg will examine school composition in one diverse district in Kentucky that has implemented such a policy for its nearly 200 schools. Using a mix of publicly-available state and country data and student-level data provided by Jefferson County Public Schools, Frankenberg will compare the level of racial and economic diversity in the district’s schools before and after the policy was implemented. Findings from this study will provide valuable information to districts that aim to voluntarily increase integration among their schools while adhering to the Supreme Court’s prohibition on the use of individual students’ racial identities as an assignment factor.

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