Houston school closings disproportionately displaced poor and black students
Meredith Richards, an assistant professor in the Department of Education Policy and Leadership at SMU, was co-author of a study that found that Houston school closings disproportionately displaced poor and black students.
The Houston Independent School District's school closures between 2003 and 2010 disproportionately displaced poor and black students, according to a new research brief from Rice University's Houston Education Research Consortium.
The researchers found that 91 percent of students in schools that were closed were economically disadvantaged (meaning they qualified for free or reduced meals under the National School Lunch and Child Nutrition Program), compared with 80 percent in HISD as a whole; and 43 percent of students affected by those school closures were black, even though only 27 percent of HISD's students were black.
Lead author Kori Stroub, a researcher for HERC, and co-author Meredith Richards, an assistant professor in the Department of Education Policy and Leadership at Southern Methodist University, also examined whether students from the closed schools transferred to high-performing schools (those in the top third of HISD schools based on Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, or TAKS, test scores) or low-performing schools (those in the bottom third of HISD schools based on TAKS scores).
Fifty-two percent of displaced students transferred to schools in the bottom third of the district in math achievement and 43 percent of displaced students transferred to schools in the bottom third of HISD in reading achievement. Only 21 percent of displaced students transferred to high-performing schools in terms of math achievement and 18 percent transferred to schools with high reading achievement. In addition, high-achieving students (those in the top third of HISD students) were 1.6 times more likely to transfer to high-performing schools than low-achieving students (those in the bottom third of HISD students). However, low- and high-achieving students were about equally likely to transfer to low-performing schools (55 percent and 49 percent, respectively).
Breaking things down by race, the researchers found that 51 percent of displaced white students transferred to schools that ranked in the top third of schools in terms of achievement and only 28 percent of black students and 20 percent of Hispanic students transferred to high-achieving campuses. By comparison, 26 percent of displaced white students, 42 percent of displaced black students and 53 percent of displaced Hispanic students transferred to low-achieving schools.
"It is particularly troubling that not only are economically disadvantaged and black students more likely to experience closures, but they are the least likely to subsequently transfer to the types of high-performing schools that are critical to their future academic success," Richards said.