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JYLR Open

Racial diversity: A secret of high-performing school districts across the United States

To cite: Coffey J. Y., Mosqueda M., & Traore I., (2022). Racial diversity: A secret of high-performing school district across the United States. International Journal of Youth-Led Research, 1(1).
http://doi.org/10.56299/wzh973

Received March 15, 2022
Accepted May 1, 2022

Joyce Y. Coffey    , Melanie Mosqueda    , Ike Traore

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Highlights

This is a youth-centered research study. Youths acted as co-researchers throughout the entire research process.

 

This study carried out a unique design investigating racial diversity among school districts that are in the same socioeconomic levels and therefore produced focused findings on the relations between racial diversity and students’ learning outcome independent of the influence of socioeconomic status.

 

This original study is part of the effort to shift conversations around racial diversity and promote unity through research.

ABSTRACT

Objectives  In this study, we aim to provide insights into the relations between racial composition and students’ academic performance in U.S. public school districts.

Methods  Extracting data from the Stanford Education Data Archive (SEDA), which includes longitudinal data of state testing scores over a ten-year span, we conducted descriptive and independent-samples t-tests to measure the differences in racial diversity between high- and low-performing school districts.

Results  The quantitative data analysis of 300 U.S. school districts showed that at any given socioeconomic level: high, low, or national-average, there is a significant difference in racial diversity between high- and low-performing school districts.

Conclusion  High-performing districts at all three socioeconomic levels are more racially diverse compared to low-performing districts. This reveals that contrary to the stereotype that more students of color mean lower academic performance, racial diversity of a student body translates to higher academic performance.

Keywords  quality education, racial segregation, school choice, academic performance, socioeconomic status, sustainable development goals

INTRODUCTION

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© Author(s) 2022. Re-use permitted under CC By-NC. 

No commercial re-use. 

See rights and permissions. Published by JYLR.

Youth Research Vox, 

Los Angeles, CA, U.S.

Correspondence to
Joyce Y. Coffey
joyce@youthresearchvox.org

Amid the unprecedented challenges the world faces today: the COVID-19 pandemic, the environmental crisis, and the social unrest, leaders and scholars of all fields turn to education for sustainable solutions. While quality education is critical to ensure a better future for humankind, nations, governments, institutions, and individual stakeholders are unable to agree on what quality education should look like. In the United States, school districts in more affluent communities tend to achieve higher test scores and thus, perceived as “high-quality” school districts. It is also evident that affluent communities consist of higher percentages of White population. The combination of the two factors led to a stagnant stereotype: the Whiter the school districts, the better they are. Consequently, school districts of less-White communities, and therefore consisting of higher percentages of students of color, are seen as “bad” school districts. However, as Gullen (2012) stated, while there is a substantial correlation between race and socioeconomic status and going to school in a low-income district consisting of more students of color is linked with poorer academic outcomes, it does not account for the entire achievement gap. 

In this study, we aim to provide insights into the relations between racial composition and students’ academic performance in U.S. public school districts.  To ensure that this study is focused on the correlation between racial diversity and academic performance and to avoid the influence of socioeconomic factors, we aim to draw comparisons between school districts that are at the same socioeconomic levels. In doing so, we ask the following research question:

To what extent does racial diversity or the lack of it account for the substantial differences in students’ academic performance between school districts that are at the same socioeconomic level?

Coffey J. Y., et al. JYLR Open 2022. http://doi.org/10.56299/wzh973

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