Giving Compass' Take:

• David Houston, a research fellow at Harvard, discusses a study indicating that parents who have access to growth data could potentially contribute to increasing integration in schools. 

• What are the benefits of integration for students of color? 

• Here are three myths about school integration. 

Families choosing schools for their kids can find themselves awash in information, from test scores and demographic data to local knowledge gleaned by talking to friends and family.

That information can feel critical for parents facing high-stakes schooling decisions. But it also may serve to entrench the segregation of schools by race and income. White families tend to avoid schools with many black students, research has shown, and low test scores can push those families away, too — scores that are also tightly correlated with student demographics.

New research suggests that providing parents with a different menu of information could nudge them to choose schools or districts they otherwise might not — potentially helping to create more integrated schools, which have been linked to better academic outcomes for students of color.

In an experiment designed by David Houston, a research fellow at Harvard, participants were presented with a hypothetical: they are moving to a new city and need to choose among different school districts in the area for their children.

All were provided with real data on race and average income for each district. Some also got information about how much students in a given school or district grow academically over time, a metric many researchers consider a better measure of school quality than proficiency rates, since schools don’t control the academic level of students when they arrive.

“Growth also has the nice advantage of being less tied to the racial and socioeconomic composition of the student body,” Houston said.

Receiving growth data led participants to choose districts where an average of 36 percent of students were white; those who got only achievement data chose districts that were 43 percent white. The pattern was similar when looking at the districts’ share of low-income students.

Read the full article about how schools' growth data could lead to integration by Matt Barnum at Chalkbeat.