March 31, 2016

William J. Mathis, (802) 383-0058,
Daniel J. Quinn, (517) 203-2940,

Concise brief considers school choice policies and segregation

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Mar. 31, 2016) – Despite advocates advancing the notion that integration can be promoted by increased school choice, a new brief released today considers the research evidence of those policies. The concise brief concludes that while choice policies may be designed and implemented in ways intended to advance integration; the result has been increased stratification.

As a part of a new series of short, concise policy briefs produced by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), William J. Mathis and Kevin Welner, University of Colorado Boulder, discuss whether school choice policies actually segregate schools. The compendium of briefs is funded in part by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

In Do Choice Policies Segregate Schools?, Mathis and Welner describe the impact of choice policies on segregation in schools.  The authors contend that while some choice school enrollments are integrated, the research literature documents an "unsettling degree of segregation – particularly in charter schools."

This is the fourth part of Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking, a multipart brief that takes up a number of important policy issues and identifies policies supported by research. Each section focuses on a different issue, and its recommendations to policymakers are based on the latest scholarship.

The authors investigate the impact of school choice through four lenses: (1) race and ethnicity; (2) poverty; (3) dual language learners; and (4) students with disabilities.

They conclude, "Even without school choice, America's schools would be shockingly segregated, in part because of housing policies and school district boundaries. School choice policies that do not have sufficient protections against unconstrained, segregative choices do exacerbate the problem."

As part of the brief, Mathis and Welner provide a list of research-based recommendations for policymakers to advance desegregation in order to provide educational opportunities for all students.

Find the brief on the GLC website:

This concise brief is published by the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder, and is made possible in part by funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

This brief is also found on the NEPC website at:

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The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.

Visit the Great Lakes Center website at