Full Length Brief: Weber_One NewarkSegregation-1
Mark Weber, PhD candidate, Rutgers University, Graduate School of Education
This brief provides a preliminary analysis of the potentially segregative effects of One Newark, the school choice plan implemented by the Newark Public Schools (NPS) in 2014. School choices appear to be influenced by ratings assigned by NPS; however, these ratings are correlated to student population characteristics, such as race and economic status. Newark families, therefore, may be the choosing schools – inadvertently or otherwise – that are more segregated.
“Popular” schools under One Newark – the ones chosen most often by families – enroll fewer students eligible for the federal free-lunch program, a proxy measure of economic disadvantage. Popular charter schools also enroll relatively large proportions of black students compared to all of the city’s publicly-funded schools, even as popular district schools enroll relatively small proportions.
While popular schools show better performance on statewide assessments, their “growth” scores, which are intended to take into account differences in student populations, are more mixed. Because test scores are correlated to student population characteristics, families that choose higher-performing schools under One Newark may be selecting schools that are more segregated.
There are notable differences between popular district and popular charter schools: the popular charters have higher suspension rates and more inexperienced teachers than the popular district schools. Whether families are aware of these discrepancies is unknown.
Although the limited data released by NPS is inadequate for a full analysis, I find these results to be sufficient evidence to warrant the release of the full set of One Newark application data.