Marking the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Department of Education recently published a report on diversity in public schools that suggests while the overall school population has become more racially and ethnically diverse, segregation between White and Black students increased between 1991 and 2000 and has remained a problem for the past two decades.
Socioeconomic segregation also likely increased between 1998 and 2020, according to the report, which compiled past research.
"Despite research showing the wide-ranging benefits associated with attending racially and socioeconomically integrated schools, isolation in schools continues," the report found.
Studies have shown students in diverse schools have higher test scores than peers in schools with isolated poverty, and that racial integration can help close achievement gaps.
A 2022 study published by Stanford University's Center for Education Policy Analysis that reviewed state accountability tests taken over the past decade showed "a very strong link between racial school segregation and academic achievement gaps."
"Notably, the association between racial segregation and achievement gaps appears to operate entirely through racial economic segregation (racial differences in exposure to poor schoolmates)," the authors found.
The authors' findings implied that students learn less, on average, when they attend higher poverty schools.
Those findings build on countless other studies with similar outcomes suggesting racial segregation is linked to worse outcomes for non-White students, such as wide Black-White test score gaps.
Conversely, higher school diversity has been shown to improve high school graduation rates for Black and Latino students, according to the Education Department report.
The Education Department's report comes as an increasing number of educators say they are fearful of discussions around race, diversity and inclusion as a result of "anti-critical race theory" and "divisive concepts" laws.
"We cannot ignore the powerful role that race, place, and income continue to play in access to educational opportunity in America," said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona in a statement.
“At a time when some are trying to turn ‘equity’ into a bad word," he said, "we must recognize that the racial and socioeconomic isolation that persists in our public schools undermines our national competitiveness by denying students of all backgrounds the rich educational experiences that result from diverse learning environments.”