Student Assignment Policy

Eric A. Houck

in Education

ISBN: 9780199756810
Published online December 2011 | | DOI:
Student Assignment Policy

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  • Education
  • Organization and Management of Education
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Student assignment is a topic of study in educational policy that focuses on the processes by which students are allocated into schools and classrooms. In this subfield of educational policy studies, scholars also study the results from such decisions. Student assignment polices have been influenced historically by federal litigation but remain local decisions in American public school governance. As a result, student assignment policies are highly localized in scope and sensitive to broader district contexts. Historically, student assignment policies have been made with regard to geography and transportation efficiency: students attended schools that were closest to their residences. This changed in 1954 with Brown v. Board of Education, when the US Supreme Court ruled that willful assignment of African American students into separate and inferior schools was unconstitutional. From that time forward, student assignment policies in many districts in the American South have been made with regard to student body racial composition. Beginning in the mid-1990s numerous districts began petitioning for a designation of unitary status, indicating that any student segregation was not related to prior discriminatory practices of the past, or confronting legal challenges on the use of race as a factor in determining a child’s school assignment. These district-led initiatives were given even more importance by the US Supreme Court’s ruling that race could not be used as a primary criterion in student assignment decisions, effectively reversing critical aspects of the Brown ruling. As a result of these developments, districts have begun to look at criteria other than student racial composition to create student body diversity within schools. Some of these approaches have included widening school attendance zones in order to draw from a more diverse population of students, using student socioeconomic status or level of academic performance in assignment policies to create diversity within schools along academic and economic dimensions, or leveraging alternate school types, such as magnet schools, to draw wealthier parents from suburbs into majority-minority urban schools. One important topic seeks to understand the politics of creating student assignment polices. Another topic focuses on primary outcomes, such as academic performance, socialization, and future economic earnings. A third topic examines secondary outcomes, such as teacher and leader quality associated with the student body composition of a school, that are assumed to be correlated with increased student-level academic productivity.

Article.  4504 words. 

Subjects: Education ; Organization and Management of Education ; Philosophy and Theory of Education ; Schools Studies ; Teaching Skills and Techniques

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