Study Finds That Young Students in Racially Integrated Classrooms Tend to Score Higher on Reading Assessments

A new study authored by Kirsten Kainz, senior research associate at the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, finds that racially segregated schools hinder progress in teaching reading skills. Kainz’s data was taken from test results of nearly 2,000 children from low-income families in kindergarten through third grade. She found that even when variables such as the quality of instruction, gender, race, and literary activity in the home are equal, the reading skills of students in schools where blacks or other minorities make up at least 75 percent of all students are lower than those of students who attend schools where whites are at least 75 percent of all students. More than half of all black students in public schools in this country attend schools where the student body is at least 75 percent minority.

Kainz’s data shows that students who learn in classrooms where large numbers of students are struggling in their reading also tend to score poorly on reading assessments. In short, all students in classrooms where many students are having a difficult time are negatively impacted by the poor reading students. Students with identical backgrounds, race, and literary experiences in the home who learn in classrooms where the average student is not struggling tend to do better themselves than students in predominantly minority classrooms.

Kainz concludes that school systems must continue to push for racial and socioeconomic integration in public schools in order to bring up overall reading scores.