School Racial Segregation and Access to High Growth Schools

Paul Hanselman, University of California, Irvine
Jeremy E. Fiel, University of Wisconsin-Madison

This paper elaborates the “geography of inequality” (Logan, Minca, and Adar 2012) for children by describing how economic and racial-ethnic segregation shape exposure to schools with high achievement growth profiles. We construct a measure of the average cohort achievement growth in California public elementary schools, in addition to students’ initial absolute level of achievement. By connecting both measures to school and neighborhood characteristics, we (1) replicate prior research documenting strong associations between high-poverty and high-minority schools and lower absolute achievement, (2) test whether spatial inequality in the exposure to high growth schools mirrors that of inequality in exposure to high-achieving schools, and (3) decompose racial disparities in exposure to high=growth schools into components related to segregation at the levels of sector, metropolitan area, district, and school. We find that exposure to high-growth schools is a unique dimension in which segregation creates disparities for poor and minority students.

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Presented in Session 32: Social Contexts of Education