School Segregation at The Classroom Level in A Southern ‘New Destination’ State

Research Rundown Issue: March '20
Publisher: National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research
Date Published: February '20


New research from Duke and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill looked at enrollment data across 20 years and found that as racial segregation between schools decreased, the racial isolation between white students and students of color inside those schools increased. Within-school segregation intensified as students moved to higher grades, and by the time students reached high school, the isolation within schools accounted for more than 40% of the total segregation between black and white students, and nearly half of the total segregation between Latino and white students. Importantly, these effects were even stronger when looking at which classes students took. Specifically, the study found that white 10th grade students who attended racially diverse schools were disproportionately more likely to take Algebra II, Pre-Calculus, and other advanced courses while 10th-grade students of color were grouped in less advanced math courses.

Why This Matters in Minnesota

Data from the Office of Civil Rights reveals that, in Minnesota, white high school students are disproportionately enrolled in Calculus and other advanced math courses. Similarly, white 8th-grade students are also disproportionately enrolled in Algebra 1. This data supports findings from a recent Minnesota Department of Education report which revealed that white students are overrepresented in Advanced Placement enrollment and test taking. This is problematic because there is ample research that shows that students who participate in rigorous coursework have higher academic achievement and are more likely to attend and graduate college. Districts should examine their rigorous coursework data and create action plans for increasing access and success.

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