GREENSBORO — Guilford County Board of Education members discussed school segregation and how to avoid it during a board work session Thursday night.
Black, Hispanic and white students all do better in reading and math — up to a point — when there is a higher percentage of white students in the school, according to districtwide statistics on state test scores shared at the Guilford County Board of Education work session.
The correlation between the percent of white students at the school and the performance of all students peaks at around 60 to 70% white students. Black, Hispanic and white students all do a little worse when the school is more than 70% white, the data show.
National data show that black and brown students do poorly in segregated schools, Superintendent Sharon Contreras said.
Contreras contributed the poor performance to several factors. First, black and brown students who are more segregated tend to have less qualified and less experienced teachers in their schools, and they also have fewer resources. Second, she said, black and brown students who attend schools where they are racially isolated often also live in concentrated poverty, which is also associated with lower performance.
With schools in or near concentrated poverty, there can be a lack of grocery stores and other important community assets, Contreras said.
Board member Pat Tillman asked whether, given those issues, it would make sense to try to avoid putting any new schools in high-poverty areas.
Other board members suggested that putting a school in a poorer area could help drive economic growth and improve outcomes for students. Contreras said the point is not that schools should never be placed in a high-poverty area, but when one is, it needs to include a high-quality, desirable magnet program that will attract students from varying areas.
She and the board members talked about how new schools could potentially be paired with other improvements such as new YMCA branches, and share resources such as swimming pools.
The discussion about new schools and where they should be located is especially relevant as the district works on a master plan proposal that will include attendance boundaries and recommendations for renovating or replacing some schools. District staff hope to share the recommendations for the master plan some time later this fall.