Every Student Succeeds Act

Toolkit for Magnet Schools

Promoting School Diversity 

Ask your state board of education to include progress toward racial and socioeconomic integration in its statewide accountability system.

Here’s why:

Research shows that racially diverse schools are positive for all students:

  • Students in integrated schools have higher average test scores.
  • Students in integrated schools are more likely to enroll in college.
  • Students in integrated schools are less likely to drop out
  • Integrated schools help to reduce racial achievement gaps.
  • Integrated classrooms encourage critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity. 

Because magnet schools break down traditional school attendance boundaries by allowing families to choose schools that appeal most to their children’s academic interest and talents, they are often more integrated. There is also strong evidence that students who attend magnet schools have the ability to adopt multiple perspectives, a diminished likelihood for acceptance of stereotypes and develop more cross-racial friendships. Since schools already collect information on the race and ethnicity of students, and have access to socioeconomic data through the National School Lunch Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and other sources, reporting on the year-over-year changes in these numbers would require minimum effort. States can use these metrics and trends to reward schools and districts for being more diverse and improving regional equity through a special designation or waiver from other aspects of the accountability system. 

Here’s how:

  • As state education leaders think through the development of their “non-academic” or “fifth indicator” for their accountability system, they will want research. 
  • Share the research on the benefits of school integration and the research on the academic and social benefits of attending magnet schools.
  • Point to New York City as an example of city adopting a reporting system on socioeconomic integration and how the district used the data to make a plan to address problems. Last year, NYC adopted legislation requiring the Department of Education to issue an annual report on diversity. The report includes school-by-school data, down to the grade level, as well as the Department’s specific efforts and initiatives to strengthen diversity. 
  • Encourage state to adopt progress toward racial and socioeconomic integration as a fifth indicator.