Research and Studies

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There is a wide body of research detailing the many advantages of attending racially and socioeconomically diverse magnet schools. These benefits include increased academic achievement and graduation rates, improved student attendance and lower disciplinary problems, greater parent and teacher satisfaction, innovative curriculum and specialized teaching staffs, diverse classrooms and higher racial and cultural understanding among students.

On this page you will find a selection of reports, papers, and articles from leading researchers and organizations covering all these topics. There are also resources on school integration policies and trends, as well as magnet school best practices. Please take time to review this information and include it in your discussions about magnet schools. 

Magnet School Research


Don’t forget magnet schools when thinking about school choice
, Brookings Institution 
The purpose of this brief is to reintroduce magnet schools, describe their prevalence and characteristics, and propose some key research questions about these not-new-but-still-important schools of choice.

Integrated Magnet Schools: Outcomes and Best Practices, Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity
This research paper reviews the evolution, benefits, best practices, and characteristics of the nation's top magnet schools. Myron Orfield, January 2013

A Review of the Research on Magnet Schools, Miami Dade County Public Schools
The bulk of this report focuses on studies that have compared the academic achievement of magnet school students to those attending traditional public schools. Studies examining the following three issues are also summarized: ethnic and economic composition of schools; high school graduation rates; and students' academic attitudes and behaviors.

Magnet Schools Provide Academic and Social Benefits, Study Reports, University of Connecticut Neag School of Education
Both white and minority children in Connecticut’s magnet schools showed stronger connections to their peers of other races than students in their home districts, and city students made greater academic gains than students in non-magnet city schools, Casey Cobb and a team of colleagues found in this research commissioned by the state of Connecticut.

Magnet School Student Outcomes: What the Research Says (Research Brief 6), National Coalition on School Diversity
This research brief outlines six major studies of magnet school student outcomes. The studies are located within a much broader body of research that documents the benefits of attending racially and socioeconomically diverse schools.

Reviving Magnet Schools: Strengthening a Successful Choice Option, UCLA Civil Rights Project
This policy brief refocuses our attention on the longstanding magnet sector. It is issued during a time of complex political and legal circumstances and seeks to understand how a variety of factors—including the Parents Involved ruling and the transition to a U.S. Department of Education led by the Obama Administration—have influenced federally-funded magnet programs.

Turnaround Schools That Work: Moving Beyond Separate but Equal, The Century Foundation
Senior Fellow Richard Kahlenberg details why “turnaround” approaches that focus on changing principals and teachers but fail to address issues related to parents and students, have fallen short of expectations. His report also includes a body of evidence that demonstrates that magnet schools with a socioeconomic mix can raise student achievement.

The Forgotten Choice? Rethinking Magnet Schools in a Changing Landscape, UCLA Civil Rights Project
Historically, magnet schools have been an important part of school districts' efforts to improve equity and quality in our nation's schools. But as charters have become a central focus of school choice proponents, federal funds for magnet schools have been frozen. This report looks at the policy effects of neglecting magnet schools.

Benefits of School Diversity


The Complementary Benefits of Racial and Socioeconomic Diversity in Schools
, (Research Brief 10) National Coalition on School Diversity
This research brief explores what is known about the importance of both racial and economic diversity in K-12 schools. We first review research on the benefits of racial diversity, then research about the benefits of SES diversity. Finally, we examine the research findings regarding the benefits of racial diversity when accounting for SES.

The Benefits of Socioeconomically and Racially Integrated Schools and Classrooms, The Century Foundation
Research shows that racial and socioeconomic diversity in the classroom can provide students with a range of cognitive and social benefits. The report by the Century Foundation highlights the wealth of research supporting the many benefits of school diversity. 

The Impact of Racially Diverse Schools in a Democratic Society (Research Brief 3), National Coalition on School Diversity
This research brief is the third in a series. It summarizes the findings from the most rigorous research related to racial and socioeconomic diversity in public schools.

What We Know About School Integration, College Attendance, and the Reduction of Poverty (Research Brief 4), National Coalition on School Diversity
This research brief details the effects of K-12 school integration on college attendance rates, college graduation, and intergenerational perpetuation of poverty.

School Integration and K-12 Educational Outcomes: A Quick Synthesis of Social Science Evidence (Research Brief 5), National Coalition on School Diversity
This research brief outlines the positive effects of racial and socioeconomic diversity on K-12 educational outcomes.

How Non-Minority Students Also Benefit from Racially Diverse Schools (Research Brief 8), National Coalition on School Diversity
Recognizing that sustained support for school diversity on the part of white families is central to the creation of stable, integrated schools, this research brief outlines the best evidence to date on the benefits of racially diverse K-12 experiences for white students.

School Integration Policy and Trends


Guidance on the Voluntary Use of Race to Achieve Diversity and Avoid Racial Isolation in Elementary and Secondary Schools
, U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice
This guidance addresses the degree of flexibility that school districts have to take proactive steps to meet the compelling interests of creating diverse learning environments and reducing racial isolation, consistent with the principles articulated in Supreme Court opinions, such as Parents Involved.

Improving Outcomes for All Students: Strategies and Considerations to Increase Student Diversity, U.S. Department of Education
This U.S. Department of Education brief provides information to support school districts and stakeholders seeking to improve student diversity in their schools through voluntary, community-led programs as part of an overall effort to increase equity and excellence for all students. 

Brown at 62: School Segregation by Race, Poverty and State, UCLA Civil Rights Project
This research brief published by the UCLA Civil Rights Project shows how intensifying segregation interacts with a dramatic increase in concentrated poverty in our schools, escalating the educational harm.

Integrating Suburban Schools: How to Benefit from Growing Diversity and Avoid Segregation (Manual), UCLA Civil Rights Project
This manual was written to help guide education stakeholders—including parents, students, school board members, community activists, administrators, policymakers and attorneys—in their efforts to promote racial diversity and avoid racial isolation in suburban school systems.

E Pluribus...Separation: Deepening Double Segregation for More Students, UCLA Civil Rights Project
In this report, the authors summarize the most rigorous research to date showing that segregated schools are systematically linked to unequal educational opportunities. Using data from the National Center on Education Statistics, they explore how enrollment shifts and segregation trends are playing out nationally, as well as in regions, states and metropolitan areas.

Southern Slippage: Growing School Segregation in the Most Desegregated Region of the Country, UCLA Civil Rights Project
Amid historic shifts in Southern enrollment patterns, the black-white paradigm that long defined the South has shifted to a multiracial one comprised of three large racial/ethnic groups. In this report, the authors find that the gains made during the desegregation era are slipping away at a steady pace and that African American and Latino students in the South are more likely to attend schools that are both racially and socioeconomically isolated.

The Resegregation of Suburban Schools: A Hidden Crisis in American Education, Gary Orfield and Erica Frankenberg (2012)
The suburbanization of American poverty is one of the most significant trends of recent times, and yet school systems are largely unprepared. Erica Frankenberg and Gary Orfield have assembled a terrific group of scholars who document growing school segregation and outline some constructive and hopeful solutions.

Still Looking to the Future: Voluntary K-12 School Integration. A Manual for Parents, Educators, and Advocates, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and UCLA Civil Rights Project
In the following pages you will find information about the rich, ever-expanding body of research that explains the many benefits of racially and ethnically diverse schools as well as the harms of racially isolated schools.

The Future of School Integration: Socioeconomic Diversity as an Education Reform Strategy, Richard Kahlenberg, The Century Foundation
This book looks how socioeconomic school integration has been pursued as a strategy to reduce the proportion of high-poverty schools and therefore improve the performance of students overall. The author also discusses how school districts have used the magnet school approach to turnaround their lowest performing schools.

Educational Delusions? Why Choice Can Deepen Inequality and How to Make Schools Fair, Gary Orfield and Erica Frankenberg (2013)
This book brings civil rights back into the center of the school choice debate and tries to move from doctrine to empirical research in exploring the many forms of choice and their very different consequences for equity in U.S. schools.

Years After a Landmark Court Decision, Connecticut’s Solution to School Segregation Shows Promise: Can it Inform Action in Baltimore? The Abell Report, June 2013, Volume 26, Number 5
In this report, Susan Eaton traces the evolution of the highly effective interdistrict magnet program in Hartford, CT and discusses the lessons that can be learned by other schools districts.

Housing Policy is School Policy, Heather Schwartz, The Century Foundation
The education reform debate is dominated by efforts to make high-poverty schools work better, but this report suggests that a more promising strategy involves providing low-income families a chance to live in more-advantaged neighborhoods, where their children can attend low-poverty public schools.

School Integration Efforts Three Years After Parents Involved, UCLA Civil Rights Project
This report synthesizes major themes in local policymaking as school districts continue to grapple with legal and economic constraints on policies that are aimed at creating diverse and integrated schools in the wake of the Supreme Court Parents Involved decision that overturned Louisville and Seattle’s voluntary integration plans.

Districts' Integration Efforts in a Changing Climate, UCLA Civil Rights Project
After the Supreme Court's voluntary integration decision and in the midst of tightening budgets, school districts around the country are balancing a number of goals including pursuing diverse schools. This memo includes examples of major trends identified in districts' actions regarding diversity and magnet schools.

Supreme Court Oral Argument in Seattle and Louisville Cases
On December 4, 2006, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District, and Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education. These cases defined to what extent school districts can use race-conscious measures in student assignment plans to promote the educational benefits associated with racial diversity. This memorandum provides a brief summary of the oral arguments.

Best Practices


Choices Worth Making: Creating, Sustaining, and Expanding Diverse Magnet Schools
, UCLA Civil Rights Project
The purpose of this manual is to support school districts and schools in developing diverse and equitable magnet programs. It is intended to help stakeholders during the planning phases of developing new magnet schools or during the revision or expansion of existing magnet schools. The manual also provides helpful insights into sustaining the success of a magnet school.

Inclusive STEM-focused High Schools: STEM Education Policy and Opportunity Structures, The National Science Foundation
This paper introduces a pair of relatively new research projects that focus on an innovative type of school that is quietly emerging across the U.S., Inclusive STEM-focused High Schools (ISHSs). Unlike older, highly selective STEM-focused schools that target students already identified as being STEM gifted/talented, the goal of ISHSs is to develop new sources of STEM talent among underrepresented minority students.

Growing and Sustaining Parent Engagement: A Toolkit for Parents and Community Partners, Center for the Study of Social Policy
This toolkit is a quick and easy guide to help support and sustain parent engagement. It provides how to’s for implementing three powerful strategies that communities can use to maintain and grow parent engagement work that is already underway.

How to Teach Students Who Don't Look Like You: Culturally Responsive Teaching Strategies, Dr. Bonnie Davis
This practical workbook provides crucial strategies to assist educators in addressing the needs of diverse learners and closing the achievement gap.

Essential Questions: Opening Doors To Student Understanding, Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins
This book from the authors of Understanding by Design explores how to design and frame essential questions that prompt students to think deeply and create a more stimulating environment for learning.

Articles About Magnet Schools


Magnet Schools Find a Renewed Embrace in Cities
, New York Times

Magnets still growing on school choice landscape, RedefinEdonline.org

Integrating a School, Once Child at Time, New York Times

Traditional Schools Blurring District LinesWashington Post

Magnet Schools ReimaginedEducation Week

Educators Innovate Through Technology Integration, Edutopia

A Brief History of Magnet Schools, Dr. Donald Waldrip

2 billion dollars later, do magnets help kids learn?The Connecticut Mirror

Charters Generally Perform Better Than Traditional Schools, Not as well as Magnets, Los Angeles Times

Conference Presentations


Making the Case for Integrated Magnet Schools: Challenges for Researchers and Policy Makers
Casey D. Cobb, Chair and Professor, Department of Educational Leadership, University of Connecticut

Public School Choice in a Post-Desegregation World: What Have We Learned and Where Are We Going? University of Connecticut Neag School of Education and Magnet Schools of America

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