Racially Integrated High Schools Often Conceal Segregated Classes, New Study Shows

Articles | March 10 2020


A truly integrated high school is hard to find.

That’s the conclusion of a new North Carolina study that takes a look at two kinds of integration: whether students of different races and ethnicities attend the same schools, and whether those students actually sit in the same classrooms.

What it finds is troubling, if not surprising. Across the state, even when high schools appear racially integrated, their classrooms are often racially segregated.

This classroom-level division “can be substantial,” wrote the three Duke University researchers who conducted the study. “To ignore this aspect of segregation … can lead to a seriously incomplete picture.”

The research is notable in its scope, and appears to validate longstanding concerns about academic tracking in high schools. Nationwide, black and Hispanic students are less likely to be enrolled in advanced courses — one key reason for the racial divides between classrooms. (Read more)