Schools in Montgomery County, Md., have won national acclaim for their track record in educating poor and minority students, but a new report argues that the county’s housing policies also play a role in the school system’s success.
The study released last week by the Century Foundation of New York City looks at the educational effects of long-running efforts in the generally affluent, Washington-area county to maintain economically integrated housing stock. (“Commentary: Housing Policy Is School Policy,” October 15, 2010.)
The county requires developers of large subdivisions to sell a percentage of homes at below-market prices. It also permits the public-housing authority to buy up to one-third of homes in subdivisions for public housing. Because those sites are scattered throughout the county, low-income children living in public housing often attend neighborhood schools with children from higher-income families.
The study tracked 850 children living in county public-housing units from 2001 to 2007. After five to seven years, it found, students in low-poverty schools performed better in math and reading than similar students in schools with a larger share of poor students.
Also, families in the program stayed put an average of eight years—longer than is typical for public-housing residents nationwide.
A version of this article appeared in the October 20, 2010 edition of Education Week as Economic Integration