The Intersection Webinar Recap: Scoring States on Charter School Integration

As we marked the 65th anniversary of Brown v. Board this month, educators, community leaders, and researchers have engaged in important conversations around segregation, diversity and equity in our schools. While the progress made over the last 65 years was noted, it was also clear that policymakers, educators, and other stakeholders must continue to work together to break down barriers and change policies that decrease segregation and create equitable opportunities for all students.  

In our May 22 Intersection Webinar, Halley Potter, senior fellow with The Century Foundation (TCF), shared their latest report, “Scoring States on Charter School Integration.” As Halley notes, “the potential for charter schools to either fight or abet segregation is consequential.”  

Research has shown that schools that are integrated – racially and socioeconomically diverse – have positive effects for students, including:

  • Higher test scores;
  • Higher likelihood to enroll in college;
  • Increase in critical thinking, problem solving and creativity;
  • Reduced racial bias; and
  • Higher likelihood to seek out integrated settings later in life.

Students themselves are also lifting up the importance of school integration. Halley shared a story about IntegrateNYC, a student-led organization that’s focused on integration and equity in New York City schools.

While students continue to find ways to share their views on this issue, what does the research say?

Halley and her team’s analysis focused on states in order to determine how state-level policies  impact racial and economic integration in its charter schools. They did this using two components:

  • Policy analysis: how many key provisions supporting school integration are included in the state’s charter policies?
  • Enrollment analysis: how well, in practice, are charter schools functioning as tools for racial integration in a state.

Below are key takeaways from Halley’s presentation as well as the full webinar broadcast.  

Key Takeaways | Scoring States on Charter School Integration

  • About 6 percent of all public school students attend charter schools. Charter schools are not the determining factor for school integration, but they have key flexibilities that traditional public schools do not have, which can be used as a tool for integration, or conversely, segregation.

  • Ten key policies that support integration in charter schools were identified. These policies fell under three buckets: removing barriers to access, affirmative supports for diverse enrollment and authorizing processes that encourage diversity.

  • No state has all 10 policies in place. On average, states have less than half of these policies. Two-thirds of states allow charter schools to use some form of weighted lottery considering diversity factors; however, few have implemented these lotteries. 

  • Using federal data, TCF looked at enrollment data across charter schools and district schools. Charter school demographics vary widely across states making it more difficult to speak in generalizations. Thus, it’s more helpful to narrow in on a particular state, which is where TCF’s interactive tool – charterdiversity.org – comes in. This tool allows you to see the score for each state as well as detailed key findings, recommendations, detailed demographics and how the state measures up to the 10 key policies.

  • Recommendations from these findings include a call to action for state policymakers and charter school authorizers to address the key policies for integration that their state is missing, as well as to take advantage of existing opportunities like weighted lotteries and inter-district enrollment.

Watch the full webinar (30 minutes) below: 

Register for our next Intersection Webinar on June 5 at 1 p.m. ET.We will be joined by David Griffith, senior research and policy associate at The Fordham Institute. David will provide an overview of his recent report, “How Aligned is Career and Technical Education to Local Labor Markets?” He will discuss whether CTE course completion matches current needs in both national and local jobs and industries, and how CTE course-taking differs by race and gender. Register now.


See you at the Intersection,

The Hunt Team