Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Shanker Blog: Three Important Details When Discussing School Segregation | National Education Policy Center

Shanker Blog: Three Important Details When Discussing School Segregation | National Education Policy Center:

Shanker Blog: Three Important Details When Discussing School Segregation

Big Education Ape: This Mostly White City Wants To Leave Its Mostly Black School District : NPR Ed : NPR - http://bigeducationape.blogspot.com/2016/12/this-mostly-white-city-wants-to-leave.html


 It sometimes seems as if school segregation is one of those topics that is always “in fashion” among education policy commenters and journalists. This is a good thing, as educational segregation, and the residential segregation underlying it, are among the most important symptoms and causes of unequal opportunity in the U.S.

Yet the discussion and coverage of school segregation, while generally quite good, sometimes suffers from a failure to make clear a few very important distinctions or details, and it may be worthwhile laying these out in one place. None of the three discussed below are novel or technical, nor do they represent a comprehensive list of all the methodological and theoretical issues surrounding segregation (of any kind).
They are, rather, just details that should, I would argue, be spelled out clearly in any discussion of this important issue.
The first thing that should always be specified is the “type” of segregation – that is, which groups are being analyzed. This is a very obvious point, and probably goes without saying, but it bears mentioning anyway. The most common groups in the education context are those defined by income (usually using subsidized lunch eligibility as a rough proxy) and race and ethnicity. Schools, on the whole, are segregated by both race and ethnicity and income, and the two are interrelated, but the levels and trends can be different (e.g., Owens et al. 2014).
Moreover, particularly when it comes to segregation by race and ethnicity, the most common measures can be applied to different combinations of groups. For example, one can measure segregation between individual groups (e.g., Black from white students), or combinations of groups (e.g., minorities from white students). It is important to make clear such specifications and, perhaps, to note that different combinations/groups can yield different results (e.g., Reardon et al. 2000). This is particularly salient given the increasingly multiracial composition of U.S. public school students.
A second, and related distinction that should be highlighted in any discussion of school segregation is the type of segregation measure used. There are many different ways to measure segregation, school and otherwise. The two most common approaches are:
  1. Exposure: This is a measure essentially of contact or interaction between groups. For example, one might calculate the percentage of the typical higher income student’s peers who are lower income. These indicators are sensitive to compositional change (e.g., a change in the number of lower income students);
  2. Evenness: This type of measure focuses not on how many members of a given group there are, but rather how evenly they are distributed (e.g., between schools or districts). If, for instance, every school in a given district has roughly the same proportion of lower income students common evenness measures Shanker Blog: Three Important Details When Discussing School Segregation | National Education Policy Center:

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