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School poverty – not racial composition – limits educational opportunity, according to new research at Stanford

Sean Reardon sits in front of a large screen showing the USA in various colors
Image credit: Holly Hernandez
Sep 23 2019
Fellow, Stanford, Students

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).

Co-authors of the research paper include Ericka S. Weathers, a 2013 EDGE-SBE Fellow and Erin M. Fahle, a 2013 Stanford Graduate Fellow.

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