School Integration is Making a Comeback as Study Documents its Benefits

By Siri Akal Khalsa posted 02-11-2016 14:18


Our schools have long embraced the value of diversity in our schools on ethical and moral grounds.  At the ground level, all of us have operated from the intuitive sense that there are many tangible benefits to diversity, although we might struggle to define them, precisely.  Now, a research study just published by Teachers College, How Racially Diverse Schools and Classrooms Can Benefit All Students, coauthored by Amy Stuart Wells, Professor of Sociology & Education at Teachers College, and doctoral students Lauren Fox and Diana Cordova-Cobo., provides empirical evidence that students in diverse schools enjoy numerous benefits.

 In short, the study concludes the following:

“A growing body of research suggests that the benefits of K-12 school diversity indeed flow in all directions—to white and middle-class students as well as to minority and low-income pupils,” the TC authors write. More specifically, the report cites research showing that:

  • Attending racially diverse schools is beneficial to all students and is associated with smaller gaps in test scores among students of different racial backgrounds, specifically due to increases in black and/or Hispanic student achievement.
  • Students of all races who attend racially integrated schools also have higher SAT scores and are less likely to drop out than students in segregated, high-poverty schools.
  • Racially diverse educational institutions help young people challenge stereotypes and their implicit biases toward people of different racial or ethnic backgrounds. The research finds that such biases can be harmful to both those who hold the biases and the targets of these biases, causing both groups to be distracted from learning.
  • Students' satisfaction and intellectual self-confidence increase when educators tap into the educational benefits of diverse classrooms by helping students challenge their assumptions and learn from more than one perspective.
  • Learning in integrated settings can also enhance students’ leadership skills.
  • Integrating schools leads to more equitable access to important resources such as structural facilities, highly qualified teachers, challenging courses, private and public funding, and social and cultural capital."

For a more detailed summary of the research, click on this link: