quote:Low-income students in Montgomery County performed better when they attended affluent elementary schools instead of ones with higher concentrations of poverty, according to a new study that suggests economic integration is a powerful but neglected school-reform tool.
The debate over reforming public education has focused mostly on improving individual schools through better teaching and expanded accountability efforts. But the study, to be released Friday, addresses the potential impact of policies that mix income levels across several schools or an entire district. And it suggests that such policies could be more effective than directing extra resources at higher-poverty schools.
quote:The study tracked the performance of 858 elementary students in public housing scattered across Montgomery from 2001 to 2007. About half the students ended up in schools where less than 20 percent of students qualified for subsidized meals. Most others went to schools where up to 60 percent of the students were poor and where the county had poured in extra money.
After seven years, the children in the lower-poverty schools performed 8 percentage points higher on standardized math tests than their peers attending the higher-poverty schools - even though the county had targeted them with extra resources. Students in these schools scored modestly higher on reading tests, but those results were not statistically significant.