Seventy years after legal decisions like Mendez v. Westminster and Brown v. Board of Education outlawed separate school systems on the basis of race, school segregation in the U.S. persists, with pernicious consequences for educational equity. Racial/ethnic and economic school segregation exist today due to large scale migration patterns, local residential segregation, and parents’ school enrollment choices. In this brief, we describe racial/ethnic and economic school segregation over the past three decades. Using the Longitudinal School Demographic Dataset, we estimate segregation among all regular, non-virtual public schools in the U.S. We first estimate segregation between students in the same grade to account for different demographic patterns and school capacity across grades, and we then average the grade-level estimates, weighting by grade enrollment of the relevant groups (e.g., White + Black students), to generate national, and school district-level segregation estimates.
Trends In Racial/Ethnic And Economic School Segregation, 1991-2020