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Abstract

Background

Since the U.S. Supreme Court deemed racially segregated schooling unconstitutional in 1954, education reformers have strived to find the most effective methods to ensure that students of all socioeconomic backgrounds have access to an effective and equitable education. Despite many efforts to address this challenge, exemplified by the highly decentralized U.S. education system, the achievement gap between students of ranging socioeconomic backgrounds persists. Mounting research, beginning with the foundational Coleman Report of 1966, demonstrates that the socioeconomic make-up of a student’s classroom is the most influential factor on his or her success. Consequently, this paper seeks to determine if socioeconomic integration plans are in fact an effective tool to boost success among students of all socioeconomic backgrounds.

Methods

This essay will provide a review of the current discussion on socioeconomic integration plans. After revealing the primary established perspectives on this issue of education reform, the discussion will raise and respond to major concerns surrounding socioeconomic integration. Lastly, this paper will synthesize findings from the current body of literature to reveal one possible method of addressing common concerns to ensure the effectiveness of socioeconomic integration reform in schools.

Results and Discussion

Current research shows that students of socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds see tremendous gains in achievement when placed in socioeconomically integrated schools. This is largely a result of positive peer influences, strong parent communities, and strong teachers who are held accountable by parents. However, reports favoring socioeconomic integration plans frequently overlook the potential risks to students. Such risks include a decrease in achievement outcomes among advantaged students and an increase in stigmatization and marginalization among disadvantaged students. Further research, however, indicates that by ensuring adequate social integration within socioeconomically integrated schools, such risks can be modified.

Conclusion

Students of diverse backgrounds are likely to experience significant cognitive and non-cognitive benefits when learning in schools that are successfully socioeconomically, as well as socially, integrated. Consequently, socioeconomic integration plans are an effective tool for improving student outcomes among students of all socioeconomic backgrounds.

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