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Does income-based school integration work?


Economic integration, a concept first floated by early public-school crusaders like Horace Mann, is a compelling idea with intuitive appeal: reduce the preponderance of high-poverty schools by spreading poor students around, says Andrew J. Rotherham for Time. The idea jumped back into the spotlight this month when the Century Foundation released a new study touting the benefits of economically integrated schools. The glaring problem from a policy perspective, however, is that low-income families tend to live in the same neighborhoods, and dramatically changing housing patterns–or school-zoning boundaries–as a large-scale reform measure is impractical. The study looked at about 850 low-income students whose families took advantage of housing programs that enabled them to live in affluent parts of Maryland’s Montgomery County. Over the course of seven years, the high-poverty students attending low-poverty schools had better outcomes than their peers who attended schools that had greater numbers of poor students. In particular, the achievement gap at the elementary level was cut in half for math and by a third in reading…

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