The St. Louis Desegregation Transfer Program: Do African American Students Perform Better in an Integrated Suburban Setting?
31 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2013
Date Written: 2013
Nationally, the educational disparity between inner-city schools and suburban schools has greatly increased. Most inner-city areas are highly populated by blacks and their adjacent suburbs are highly populated by whites. Geographic assignment causes African Americans to compose the majority of students educated in urban public schools while whites make up the majority of suburban public schools. The St. Louis metropolitan area is a classic example of this phenomenon. Population shifts of blacks and whites in St. Louis County and the City of St. Louis from 1950 to present show a majority black inner-city adjacent to a majority white suburban county.
The academic achievement gap between the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County students indicates educational and racial disparity between the city and county schools. The City of St. Louis and St. Louis County school districts have tried to solve this racial disparity in public education through St. Louis’ interdistrict student transfer program, the Voluntary Interdistrict Choice Corporation (VICC). Starting in the 1980s, this transfer program aimed to desegregate the predominantly white, higher performing county school districts and the predominantly black, low performing city school district. This study focuses on the effectiveness of this program. I question do African American students over time perform better in an integrated suburban setting than in a largely segregated inner-city setting?
Past analyses of VICC conclude the academic performance of city transfer students improves, but the absence of key student and district level conditions creates uncertainty (Heaney and Uchitelle, 2004; Smrekar and Goldring, 1999; Lissitz, 1992). This study will be the first to use five years of individual-level student data to examine the effectiveness of VICC at the student and district level. I seek to illuminate the achievement gap involving the African American city students who transferred into suburban school districts, and the black students continuing schooling in the city during the 2005-2006, 2006-2007, 2007-2008, 2008-2009, and 2009-2010 school years. The difference in Missouri Achievement Program (MAP) test scores of black city transfer students and suburban students during these five school years will be evaluated to examine the achievement gap. Longitudinal regression analysis will measure the MAP test scores of city and county students.
The dependent variable is student test scores. The independent variables consist of three types of students: transfer students (from the city) and residential students (from the city and county). The gender, grade level, socio-economic status, and educational limitation of each student are controlled. The hierarchical linear model used seeks to find the relationship between student test scores and student types over time.
I posit participation in the transfer program improves a student’s academic performance; therefore, city transfer students should score higher than city residential students. Additionally, I posit from the 2005-2006 through the 2009-2010 school years, city transfer students scored higher on the MAP test than city students who remained in the city’s school system. I anticipate the longer the participation in the program, the greater the affect the program has on student achievement.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation