Research on integration

Effects of integration

The goal of detracking is to integrate classrooms within schools. In the more than fifty years since Brown vs. the Board of Education, researchers have extensively studied the benefits of school integration. These include long term benefits such as an increased likelihood of living and work in more diverse communities and short term benefits such as improved high school graduation rates and improved academic outcomes. Here are a sampling of studies.

Mickelson, Nkomo, and Wimberly (2012) conducted an extensive literature review of the effects of school diversity on a variey of academic and life outcomes. They found positive benefits from  integration on a whole range of indicators. Read more

    Citation:  Mickelson, R., Nkomo, M., & Wimberly, G. (2012). Integrated schooling, life course outcomes, and social cohesion in multiethnic democratic societies. Review of Research in Education, 36, 197-238.

    Abstract:  No abstract.

    Methods:  Literature synthesis

    Key findings: Most studies found academic achievement benefits for students from attending diverse schools, especially for high school students, and students of color. Early research on integration did not always find this due to limited data and flawed methods. Students who attend more diverse schools also tend to be less prejudiced, to have more interracial friendships, and stronger intergroup relations. While the overall impact of attending diverse high schools on graduation rates is less clear, generally attending a racially isolated, high poverty school depresses high school graduation rates. Students, especially students of color, who attend diverse schools are more likely to role in college and to work in diverse work places. Students who attend diverse high schools are more likely to have diverse friendships as adults and to live in diverse communities.  

    Mikulyuk and Braddock (2018) investigated the effects of school diversity on intergroup social cohesion. Read more

    Citation:  Mikulyuk, A. & Braddock, J. (2018). K-12 school diversity and social support: Evidence in support of compelling state interest. Education and Urban Society, 50, 5-37.

    Abstract:  Despite existing research that demonstrates the benefits of racial diversity in education, the Court has become increasingly disinclined to allow the use of race or ethnicity in education policy targeted to increase race/ethnic diversity, absent a compelling state interest. The debate over the merits of educational diversity has almost exclusively focused on individual-level outcomes, ignoring consequences for society at large. We argue that this restricted conception of the goals of diversity may limit our understanding of how diverse learning opportunities represent compelling societal interests. Using macrolevel data of 29 U.S. metropolitan areas, we examine the societal impact of K-12 diversity on an important societal attribute, intergroup social cohesion. This research has the potential to inform education policy and judicial sentiment about diversity as a compelling state interest in an increasingly diverse society.

    Methods: Analysis of Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey data on social capital compared with U.S. Census data

    Key findings:  Diversity in K-12 schools is positively related to racially bridging friendship ties. Generally, greater diversity in schools was found to be related to high levels of social cohesion

    Braddock and Gonzalez (2010) examines the effects of school segregation on social cohesion, including preference for same race peers. Read more

    Citation:  Braddock, J. H., II, & Gonzalez, A. (2010). Social isolation and social cohesion: The effects of K-12 neighborhood and school segregation on intergroup orientations. Teachers College Record, 112, 1631-1653.


    Background/Context: The United States is becoming increasingly racially and ethnically diverse, and increasingly racially isolated across race-ethnic boundaries. Researchers have argued that both diversity and racial isolation serve to undermine the social cohesion needed to bind American citizens to one another and to society at large.
    Focus of Study: Given the compelling and consistent findings relating desegregation to social inclusion, this research posits that the issue of declining social trust and social cohesion may be better understood as a consequence of segregation and social isolation within communities rather than as a consequence of variations in diversity across communities. Thus, this study examines the relationship between social cohesion (social distance) and social isolation (race-ethnic segregation) at the institutional level—in schools and neighborhoods. Thus, in the present study, social distance, which reflects both weak connections among ethnically diverse groups in society and limited “bridging capital,” serves as our operational indicator of social cohesion.
    Participants: Participants in this study come from the National Longitudinal Survey of Freshmen, a national probability sample of approximately 4,000 first-time students entering selective colleges and universities in 1999. Equal numbers of African American, Latino, Asian, and White students were sampled from 28 participating institutions, which resulted in an oversampling of minority students to provide meaningful comparisons across each of the major race-ethnic groups.
    Research Design: This study examines the effects of early racial isolation in schools and neighborhoods on social cohesion (i.e., preference for same-race neighbors, preference for children to have same-race schoolmates, and social distance); as such, the measures of social cohesion are drawn from the baseline survey (Wave 1) conducted at the beginning of the first year, before college context and experiences could reasonably impact these outcomes. The models in this study are estimated by race-ethnic group using ordinary least squares regression. The social cohesion outcomes (i.e., preference for same-race neighbors, preference for children to have same race-schoolmates, and social distance) are estimated separately for each raceethnic group as a function of early racial isolation in neighborhoods, early racial isolation in schools, high school type and context, and student demographics.
    Findings/Results: Results suggest that social isolation in schools plays a more significant role than neighborhood isolation in diminishing social cohesion among young adults, although both matter. Our overall findings relating social isolation in K–12 schooling and young adults’ feelings of social distance, as well as preference for same race-neighbors, offer further support for perpetuation theory, which suggests that early school segregation leads to segregation across the life course and across institutional contexts. The findings also point to school segregation’s intergenerational consequences and are consistent with the results of Crain’s classic research using Office of Civil Rights data, which laid the foundation for later studies on the long-term effects of desegregation. 

    Methods: Analysis of the National Longitudinal Survey of Freshman beginning in 1999

    Key findings:  Diversity in K-12 schools mattered even more than neighborhood diversity for inhibiting or promoting social cohesion for college students. Students from segregated schools had higher preferences for same race peers than students who attended diverse schools.

    Kuralender and Yun (2005) investigated the relationship between school diversity and attitudes about diversity. Read more

    Citation:  Kuralender, M. & Yun, J. (2005). Fifty years after Brown: New evidence of the impact of school racial composition on student outcomes. International Journal of Educational Policy, 6(1), 51-78.

    Abstract:  No abstract

    Methods: Results from Diversity Assessment Questionnaires given to almost 11,000 students attending Miami Dade high schools in 2000.

    Key findings:  Overall, students who attended more diverse high school responded more positively to attitude questions on the diversity questionnaires. 64% of students indicated that their participation in extra curricular activities increased their interest in improving racial relations.

    Mickelson and Bottia (2010) reviewed 59 articles on the impact of integration on math achievement and found that the research shows that school integration is associated with stronger mathematics achievement for students. Read more

    Citation:  Mickelson, R., & Bottia, M. (2010). Integrated education and mathematics outcomes: A synthesis of social science research. North Carolina Law Review, 88, 993-1089.

    Abstract:  Mastery of mathematics and science by this nation’s youth is essential for the nation’s future development as well as students’ personal growth and economic well-being. Yet the performance of U.S. students in mathematics and science is unimpressive compared to other advanced industrialized nations. In addition, stark racial and socioeconomic status (“SES”) disparities in mathematics knowledge, skills, and achievement compound the predicament presented by the overall mediocre performance of U.S. students. A growing corpus of social science research indicates school racial and socioeconomic segregation are institutional sources of the disparate outcomes. Ironically, while the empirical evidence regarding the positive effects of racially and socioeconomically integrated learning environments has grown clearer and more definitive, the 2007 Supreme Court decision in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 has made it more difficult to create diverse schools. This Article clarifies the social science record about school composition effects on mathematics outcomes in K-12 schools by presenting a comprehensive synthesis of the educational, behavioral, and social science literatures on the topic. It combines narrative and vote-counting approaches to synthesize fifty-nine  articles that met inclusion criteria that included: research disseminated in 1990 or later; reported effects of school racial and/or socioeconomic composition on mathematics outcomes; utilized a quantitative measure of any type of mathematics outcomes as a dependent variable; and employed appropriate statistical techniques given the structure of the data. Together, the fifty-nine articles demonstrate the relevance of school racial and socioeconomic diversity for enhancing mathematics outcomes for elementary, middle, and high school students. Mathematics outcomes are likely to be higher for students from all grade levels, racial, and SES backgrounds who attend racially and socioeconomically integrated schools. Given these findings, parents, educators, policy makers, and jurists should address the role of school racial segregation and concentrated poverty in the persistence of achievement gaps in mathematics outcomes. 

    Methods: Literature review of 59 articles on the effects of school integration on math achievement.

    Key findings:  The achievement gap between White and Black students in math narrowed during the height of school integration. Overall, school integration is associated with higher math achievement for all students.