The Hidden Value of School Desegregation: Disentangling School- and Student-Level Effects of Desegregation and Resegregation on the Dropout Problem in Urban High Schools: Evidence from the Cleveland Municipal School District, 1977-1998
University of Kansas
Examines the effect of racial desegregation on promoting power of urban high schools.
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
Teacher College Record
Vol. 112, No. 5, pp. 1391-1442
- Desegregation made a considerable difference in the way that high schools aggravated the dropout problem. Much of the difference was explained by key compositional changes such as reductions in minority, poverty, and nontraditional family concentration in the schools for minorities. Resegregation reversed those benefits.
- There is no evidence of White harm. Instead, Whites appear to have benefited from desegregated schools in ways similar to how minorities benefited, although to a lesser extent.
- Desegregation could be considered an effort that could considerably alter the high schools' contribution to white dropouts in the face significant non-school problems.
- The relative decline in the white dropout problem constitutes evidence for the lack of white harm, at the individual level, due to desegregation.
- Even if desegregation did have a favorable effect on student performance, it could not outcompete the adverse influence of other, non-school impediments associated with the broader structure of urban deprivation.
- While the economic, family, and neighborhood variables used in this study may not fully capture the scope of non-school disadvantages in CMSD, they point to the ways in which the student-level benefits of desegregation may be precluded by forces beyond the reach of that policy.
- Under segregated conditions, both minorities and whites tended to suffer from adverse school-level effects.
- By aggravating individual tendencies to drop out, urban high schools tend to perpetuate the racial achievement gap.
- High schools for minorities tended to have higher levels of promoting power during the desegregation period, than they did prior to desegregation. There were also signs of decline in promoting power for minorities during the desegregation process though the extent of the losses was smaller than expected.
- Not only were white students at CMSD unharmed by desegregation, but they experienced considerable gains.
- As was the case for minorities, however, desegregation had no meaningful benefits for whites at the student level, most likely because white students in the district were subject to similar types of non-school problems as blacks and Hispanics were, though they were affected to a relatively lesser degree.
Journal Article Empirical Research
Desegregation, Dropouts, Racial Composition, SES
Method of Analysis:
Cleveland Municipal School District
Unit of Analysis:
- Longitudinal data set from the Cleveland Municipal School District (CMSD), which implemented a comprehensive, city-wide desegregation policy between 1979 and 1992. This data had a yearly repeated measures regarding personal, socioeconomic, and academic characteristics of four pairs of high school cohorts, each consisting of a minority and a white group (a total 27, 550 students).
- The pair of cohorts were 5 years apart; the first pair was from the late 1970s (minimal exposure to desegregation), the second pair of cohorts was from the early 1980s (segregated schools and then desegregated schools), and the third pair of cohorts from the late 1980s (attended desegregated schools the entire time).
- Data set included yearly records for 27,550 high school students, 73 % of whom were minority.
- Only "regular public school" student were included in the data set.
- Three hypotheses tested:
- H1- Under a desegregation program, minority students in urban districts will attend high schools with stronger promoting power, than they will under segregated conditions.
- H2- Improvements in high school promoting power for urban minorities will be more pronounced when those students attend desegregated elementary and middle schools, than when they attend segregated ones.
- H3- The difference that desegregation makes in high school promoting power for urban minorities will primarily be associated with changes in the compositional attributes and the associated changes in the resources and organizational features of the high schools these students attend.
- Cleveland Municipal School District is one of the worst performing districts in the nation, with a 72% dropout rate in 2001.
- Modeling is similar to the "random intercept model" HLM and it treats the models at different levels as separate rather than simultaneous instances of estimation.