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District 15 middle school integration plan report

A few years ago, District 15 undertook an ambitious plan to better integrate their middle schools that were among the most segregated in the city. In 2018, selective admissions (grades, standardized test results, attendance etc) were discontinued and every child got a lottery number instead. Schools adopted targets to admit certain numbers of disadvantaged children (priority in admissions) and parents led the effort.

5 years after its implementation, the plan is working! Middle schools in District 15 from Sunset Park to Cobble Hill went from being the second most socioeconomically segregated #30 to #19 of the city’s 32 local districts. Teachers and students say friendships are emerging across income lines. And while opposition to integration efforts is often focused concern that middle-class and white families will abandon public schools, the area — District 15 — has not seen a major exodus. The city’s public school enrollment has dropped as families leave New York or move to charters, but the district’s declines have been less extreme than elsewhere.

Key findings

  • District 15 elementary schools remain the most socioeconomically segregated in NYC. The contrast between the D15 elementary and middle schools in part reflects residential segregation and highlights the effectiveness of the plan in countering this segregation at the middle school level
  • 10 out of 12 middle schools in District 15 fall under the target range of 40-70% admissions priorities for students in poverty, English Language Learners etc in school year 22/23
  • Students list more schools when applying to middle school than before the plan, especially students without priority admissions
  • Two middle schools in Sunset Park remain socioeconomically isolated, with high proportions of disadvantaged children
  • Districtwide, the average distance to school stayed constant
  • Since 2018, middle school enrollment in District 15 has declined by 11%, compared with 14% citywide
  • Enrollment in Charter Middle Schools has increased by 29% citywide, however enrollment among charter middle schools in District 15 declined by 1%
  • In 22/23 85% of students in District 15 receive one of their top 3 choices
  • In 22/23 District 15 middle school students had 9% higher scores in Math and 8% higher scores in ELA compared to citywide versus pre-implementation 13% higher in math and 11% higher in ELA versus citywide (standardized tests)

Read the full report here.

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