Giving Compass' Take:

• Christina Veiga and Amy Zimmer discuss the positive impact of Brooklyn's diversity plan to shift demographics in middle schools.

• Why is increasing diversity in schools important? What kind of diversity plans could work in your community?

• Read about curriculum reflecting diversity in schools.

A pioneering diversity plan is starting to shift racial demographics of schools in one corner of Brooklyn, according to preliminary 2019-20 enrollment data released Thursday by the education department.

By moving to a lottery-based admission system and getting rid of competitive screens, the new policy aims to integrate middle schools so they reflect the demographics of District 15.

This year’s enrollment numbers show that disproportionately white and affluent schools saw some of the most dramatic changes. Schools serving mostly Hispanic students also experienced notable shifts — but in some cases the changes were less pronounced, suggesting there is still work to be done to convince families to consider a wider range of options for their children.

Dire warnings that white and more affluent families would flee the public school system largely did not come to pass. In fact, the district’s share of white sixth graders — 31 % — remained unchanged compared to last year.

South Slope’s New Voices, a performing arts school coveted by white families in the district, saw Hispanic student enrollment climb by almost 20 percentage points, to 41% of the sixth-grade class. At M.S. 51, which has billed itself as a school for gifted students, Hispanic enrollment jumped by 13 percentage points, to 36%.

Before this year, most middle schools in the district had used their own selective criteria, such as test scores and attendance records, to admit students. For this year’s incoming sixth graders, the uniquely diverse district eliminated screens. Instead, students were admitted by lottery, with preference given to students who are low-income, in temporary housing, or learning English as a new language. The aim is for all of the district’s middle schools to enroll 40 to 75% of students who fall under those categories. In this first year of the initiative, all but three schools met those benchmarks.

Read the full article about shifting demographics in Brooklyn schools by Christina Veiga and Amy Zimmer at Chalkbeat.