December 19, 2016

Erica Frankenberg, (814) 865-5862,
Daniel J. Quinn, (517) 203-2940,

Recent report on school integration has limited utility for policymakers, review finds

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Dec. 19, 2016) - An October report from the Center on Children and Families at Brookings attempted to compare various research findings on school segregation with a focus on expanding urban charter schools. The report argued that school quality is the primary determinant of student achievement, and that instead of addressing school segregation, policy should focus on improving the schools that students of color and low-income students attend. However, an academic review of the report finds the report has limited use for policymakers.

Erica Frankenberg, Penn State University College of Education, reviewed the report, Segregation, Race, and Charter Schools: What Do We Know?, for the Think Twice think tank review project. Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center, is funded in part by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice. Dr. Frankenberg's research has examined how the design of school choice policy affects racial and economic student stratification. This has included examining the segregation trends in charter schools as well as analyzing state and federal policy to understand why such patterns of segregation exist in charter schools.

Overall, Frankenberg says, "This report is more a distraction than a contribution." Despite its claimed attempt to investigate research findings on school segregation, the report suggests that policy attend to school quality via school choice.

In her review, Frankenberg finds that the report presents a false choice between school integration and creating high-quality urban charter schools. She indicates that the report is limited because of its selective review and interpretation of the literature on race and poverty, and its questionable conclusions that are not reflective of the research consensus.

Frankenberg concludes, "because most forms of school choice further segregation, the report's recommendation will likely only further segregation and inequality for students."

Find the full review on the web:

You can find the original report from Brookings on the web at:

Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center, provides the public, policymakers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible by funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The review can also be found on the NEPC website:

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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.

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