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Dis-location: school choice, residential segregation and educational inequality

Dis-location: school choice, residential segregation and educational inequality
Dis-location: school choice, residential segregation and educational inequality

Dis-location considers the theory and empirical research behind the impact of school choice on residential segregation and educational inequality.

One of the most vocal arguments against school choice is that the assertion that it increases inequality by lifting some and 'drowning' others. Is this assertion correct? Gabriel H. Sahlgren, CMRE Director of Research, contends that the research is not clear-cut.

When school choice measures do not depend on the proximity of pupils to their chosen schools, residential segregation actually decreases. In essence, allowing parents choice that is not based on the size of their wallet or their post-code improves equity. International evidence shows that school choice also decreases the influence of parental backgrounds on pupils' achievements. Other evidence suggests that pupils of all backgrounds benefit roughly the same from choice reforms. This report makes policy recommendations based on these research findings. 

Governments could increase school integration and equity by introducing lotteries for all over-subscribed schools, and by ensuring better transportation to schools in the form of school buses. Policy could also increase equity by expanding choice to more pupils and enabling more pupils to attend better schools. This could be achieved by introducing a profit motive in education, and perhaps also by introducing bonuses to school leaders to stimulate expansion when successful schools become over-subscribed.

Other recommended policies include a national funding formula, to eradicate regional funding disadvantages, and improving information provision, as more disadvantaged parents benefit most from this.


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Click here to view an executive summary of the report.

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