Equity & Diversity

Here’s How Six Charter School Networks Are Trying to Increase Student Diversity

By Arianna Prothero — February 09, 2016 2 min read
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Public schools are becoming more segregated even though there’s a significant body of research showing that students do better academically in racially and socioeconomically diverse schools.

That’s according to a new report from The Century Foundation, a left-leaning think tank, that identifies 91 school districts and charter schools that have policies explicitly designed to foster diversity within their schools.

Among them are six charter networks and two standalone charters that look at students’ socioeconomic statuses in their lottery processes. Although the report largely focuses on district-based policies, I thought it would be interesting to pull out the charters and list their enrollment policies.

This is not an exhaustive list, but rather the charters that Century Foundation researchers were able to find that met a specific set of qualifications (you can dig into the methodology here).

Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy, Cumberland, R.I. (charter network)

  • Reserves 50 percent of seats in its admissions lottery for low-income students and balances enrollment from urban and suburban districts.

Brooklyn Prospect Charter School, Brooklyn, N.Y. (charter network)

  • Offers preference in the school’s admission lottery for students eligible for free and reduced-price meals;
  • Gives priority in the waitlist for late admission to transient students who are also English-language learners, who qualify for free or reduced-price meals or who have a parent who is a member of the U.S. armed forces deployed overseas.

Citizens of the World Charter Schools, Los Angeles (charter network)

  • Gives a weighted preference in the admissions lottery for students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals at some of their schools.

Community Roots Charter School, Brooklyn, N.Y. (standalone charter)

  • Reserves 40 percent of its seats for students who live in public housing.

Compass Charter School, Brooklyn, N.Y. (standalone charter)

  • Gives added weight in the school’s admissions lottery to students eligible for free and reduced-price meals.

DSST Public Schools, Denver (charter network)

  • Reserves 40 to 70 percent of its seats in its lottery system for students of low-socioeconomic status.

High Tech High, San Diego (charter network)

  • Gives statistical advantage in their lottery to students who receive free and reduced-priced meals;
  • Weights the lottery by ZIP code to draw from a balanced cross section of San Diego neighborhoods.

Larchmont Charter School, Los Angeles (charter network)

  • Uses an annually updated algorithm in its lottery system to ensure its population of low-income students matches neighborhood census data.

U.S. schools are more racially segregated than they were in the 1970s, the authors of The Century Foundation report write, in part because of the rise of neighborhoods in concentrated poverty and changing education policies—such as the end of busing initiatives to promote integration.

More than one-third of black and Latino students attend a school that is 90 percent non-white, while the reverse is true for white students. Schools that are mostly black and Latino are also mostly low-income.

The full report, “A New Wave of School Integration: Districts and Charters Pursuing Socioeconomic Diversity” is available here.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Charters & Choice blog.