225K students in Mass. go to segregated schools, new report says


The report found that segregated public schools correspond with low graduation rates and standardized test scores.

Massachusetts schools are failing more than 225,000 students who are attending substandard segregated schools, with 90% of them being Latino or Black, according to a new report by a state oversight committee.

Often, students who attend segregated public schools are associated with low graduation rates and standardized test scores, according to the report “Racial Segregation in Massachusetts Schools” by the Racial Imbalance Advisory Council.

“The disparities we see are substantial and pervasive,” said Raul Fernandez, a senior lecturer at Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development, who chairs the advisory council. “This is an issue that has been festering for a very long time without appropriate attention and intervention by folks at all levels — by the state, the legislative branch, down to the local districts.”

“There is a lot of blame to go around here, and the real question is who is going take responsibility,” he added.

In 2024, the report found that of the 1,811 public schools in the state, only 664, or 37%, were considered racially diverse. Of the public schools, 39% had a population where the vast majority of students are white, and 24% had a population where most students are of color.

The report labeled a school as segregated if white or non-white students comprised between 71% and 89% of the student body and as intensely segregated if 90% or more students were white or students of color.

The report found that the graduation rate at almost all-white schools was 93%, while the rate at schools where students of color comprise more than 90% of enrollment was 72%.

There is also a similar 33-point gap in students going to college between intensely segregated white and non-white schools.

In Massachusetts, schools with the highest levels of non-white segregation, where 65% of students are Latino, exhibit the poorest outcomes. Fernandez said that even white and Asian students who go to these segregated non-white schools perform worse than their peers at whiter schools. 

“These schools are harming everyone,” he said. “Most of the students being harmed are Latino and Black. But, our thinking on this needs to be broader on what segregation is. It’s no longer a Black and white issue.”

The new report comes on the heels of the 70th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision that ordered the desegregation of public schools and the 50th anniversary of Judge Arthur Garrity’s decision ordering the desegregation of Boston schools.

The work is far from over, said Fernandez, beginning with following the laws on the books today.

The report outlines 18 recommendations to reduce segregation and eradicate disparities in student performance. These include greater oversight over school desegregation efforts, the collection of more data, and increased funding for METCO. This voluntary school integration program allows Boston and Springfield students to attend suburban schools. The report also recommends considering racial balance when closing, building, or moving schools.

Fernandez said that even if students come from the same background and home life, the data shows that they would still perform better at less segregated schools.

“The kids who are in these schools are suffering those consequences,” he said.

In one example, Springfield’s Summer Elementary (PK-5), located about 2 miles from Center Elementary (K-5) in Longmeadow, has starkly different student composition and outcomes.

The report shows that the Springfield school, which has 91.5% non-white students, has 17% 3rd-grade ELA (English Language Arts) and 13% 3rd-grade math proficiency rates. This is compared to the Longmeadow school, which has 20% non-white students and has 63% 3rd-grade ELA and 60% 3rd-grade math proficiency rates.

A separate report by Dr. Elizabeth Setren of Tufts University on the METCO program, a voluntary inter-district desegregation program established in 1965, shows consistently better outcomes for METCO participants.

The report showed substantial gains in math and ELA MCAS scores across grades 3 through 10, with students scoring 50% closer to the state average in math and two-thirds closer to the state average in ELA by 10th grade because of participation in the program.

Fernandez says the findings showcase that students of color can succeed when provided the right educational resources while living in under-resourced communities.

State Education Secretary Patrick Tutwiler told The Boston Globe in a statement that the Healey-Driscoll administration remains focused on addressing these issues.

“The Healey-Driscoll administration is committed to ensuring that all students receive a high-quality education in inclusive learning environments,” he said in a statement. “Our administration remains focused on addressing these challenges.”

By publication, the Department of Education and Secondary Education had not responded to a request for comment on the report.

Fernandez says the council gathered the data on their report from the Department of Education and Secondary Education after unmet requests for reports on racial disparities.

Once the numbers became clear, Fernandez said the council realized that the state had to do more to help these failing schools. He hopes that it won’t take a court case to create change.

“It really is heartbreaking to see,” he said. “Behind each of these data points are students that are failing that would otherwise succeed.”

#225K #students #Mass #segregated #schools #report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *