The Impact of Integration: An Analysis of the METCO Voluntary Desegregation Busing Program
1. Title: The Impact of Integration: An Analysis of the METCO Voluntary Desegregation Busing Program
2. Topic/Project Type: Improving Education Systems, Initial Efficacy and Follow-up
3. Purpose: This project analyzes the impact of integration on black, Hispanic, Asian, and white students’ outcomes using the applicant records of a fifty-year-old program. It will increase understanding of the impact of reduced racial isolation and of access to high-performing suburban schools for urban students of color.
4. Setting: A Massachusetts desegregation program called METCO that busses Boston and Springfield minority students to 42 suburban school districts
5. Population/Sample: To study the impact of integration, we will study urban students of color who applied to METCO for the chance to enroll in a suburban school. Over 3,300 students across grades K – 12 participate in METCO each year. We currently have records of over 32,000 METCO applicants from 1990 – present. We are expanding the sample to include applicants back to the start of the program in 1966 to enable analysis of longer-term outcomes and to study how the programs’ effects changed over time. Additionally, we will investigate the impact of integration on the predominantly white, higher SES students of the 42 school suburban districts that accept METCO students.
6. Intervention/Assessment Factors: METCO is the country’s largest desegregation bussing program. It has enrolled urban minority students in suburban schools since 1966.
7. Control Condition: Urban students who are not selected for METCO mostly attend urban public schools with a high fraction of minority students. Suburban students in the control condition have lower exposure to diverse peers.
8. Research Design and Methods: difference-in-differences, two-stage least squares/instrumental variables analysis, and lottery-based analysis
9. Key Measures: Outcomes from state administrative education records include: Math and English test scores, attendance, suspensions, grade progression and retention, school climate measures (including measures of social and academic integration and inclusion, attitudes about diversity, school bullying, and social and emotional competencies), passing state exam to remain in college-prep courses in high school, high school graduation, state scholarship qualification, and SAT and AP test taking and scores. The project will also analyze college enrollment, persistence, and graduation outcomes, employment and earnings, civic engagement, criminal justice outcomes, marriage and fertility and housing outcomes.
10. Data Analytic Strategy: To estimate the causal impact of METCO for urban students, we will use waitlist (Boston) and lottery (Springfield) instruments in two-stage least squares analysis. For suburban districts, we will use difference-in-differences analysis, exploiting shocks to students’ exposure to diverse peers.
11. Cost and Cost-effectiveness Analysis: Publicly available data enables a detailed cost analysis of the METCO program at the state, district, and school level at the aggregate and per-pupil level. Data include state budget and expenditure for administration of the program, transportation costs, and subsidies for districts that accept METCO students. In addition, detailed school and district revenue and expenditure data enable estimation of the per-pupil revenue and spending of schools and districts that receive METCO students and lost revenue for Boston and Springfield Public Schools. We will compare the costs of the program to key outcomes (including student test scores, college graduation, and earnings) to conduct the cost-effectiveness analysis for the state, the individual suburban school districts, and overall.
This project is supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, US Department of Education under grant number R305A200060.
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