Saturday, September 24, 2005

Integration of a different kind

There's an absolute must-read in this morning's New York Times. In Raleigh, NC, 91% of Hispanic students and 80% of Hispanic students are at or above grade level on reading and math tests. Considering the figures are around 50% in most of the rest of the country, these are astounding figures.

How'd they do it?

The main reason for the students' dramatic improvement, say officials and parents in the county, which includes Raleigh and its sprawling suburbs, is that the district has made a concerted effort to integrate the schools economically.

Since 2000, school officials have used income as a prime factor in assigning students to schools, with the goal of limiting the proportion of low-income students in any school to no more than 40 percent.

When their racial integration plans were threatened by court cases, Raleigh officials developed the economic integration model to replace it. The results have been nothing short of magnificent.

Some experts said the academic results in Wake County were particularly significant because they bolstered research that showed low-income students did best when they attended middle-class schools.

"Low-income students who have an opportunity to go to middle-class schools are surrounded by peers who have bigger dreams and who are more academically engaged," said Richard D. Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation who has written about economic integration in schools. "They are surrounded by parents who are more likely to be active in the school. And they are taught by teachers who more likely are highly qualified than the teachers in low-income schools."

Could this be replicated in other places? The topic is a compelling program and I'd love to learn more about it or similar ones in other parts of the country. If anyone out there knows of academic research or other journalistic reports on the topic, please post about them in the comment section.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Raleigh, NC results have already been discredited.
Black and Hispanic children in Raliegh scored almost the same and black and hispanic children throughout the state. The results just show that if lower standards enough and make the test easy enough, you can probably hide any differences in achievement and any failures.

5:40 AM  

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