NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 3, 2005

Economic integration in Raleigh schools has led to dramatic gains on standardized tests for black and Hispanic students, says Alan Finder of the New York Times.

Over the past four years, school officials in Wake County have assigned students to schools based on family income; the proportion of low-income students in any school is no more than 40 percent. The results have been remarkable:

  • In Wake County, 80 percent of third through eighth grade black students scored at grade level on standardized tests last spring, up from 40 percent a decade ago.
  • Similarly, 91 percent of Hispanics scored at grade level in the spring, up from 79 percent a decade ago.

In order to achieve economic diversity, low-income children are bused to middle-class schools in the suburbs, and for some students, that might mean a bus ride of 55 minutes one way. However, slightly more than 85 percent of students attend a school within five miles of home, and another 12 percent voluntarily attend magnet schools or year-round schools.

While the results have been favorable, not all parents support the plan. Cynthia Matson, founder of the group, Assignment by Choice, advocates that parents should be able to choose the schools their children attend. In some cases, restrictions have made it difficult for middle-class children to get into magnet schools.

Source: Alan Finder, "As Test Scores Jump, Raleigh Credits Integration by Income," New York Times, September 25, 2005.

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