What experts say needs to be done to disrupt historic patterns of segregation in DC’s schools | Greater Greater Washington

September 19, 2022
  • D.C. Policy Center
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Photo/Wayan Vota. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 (Source)

On September 19, 2022, two D.C. Policy Center reports were cited by Greater Greater Washington:

Still, DC schools continue to struggle to disrupt historic patterns of segregation. While students are fairly likely to go to school with students of a different class, they’re much less likely to go to school with a lot of students of a different race.

One way to improve the lottery for “at-risk” students, some advocates say, is to give at-risk students (including students experiencing homelessness, students in the foster care system, and those receiving government cash or food assistance) a priority.

Currently, at-risk students are less likely to get into their school of choice, both as a result of long waitlists in highly sought-after schools and because sibling priority in the lottery means that current school demographics are hard to disrupt.

While a 2018 study found that giving at-risk students a higher priority would improve outcomes for just 8.2% of at-risk participants, a 2020 study by DC Policy Center was much more promising.

They looked specifically at charter schools with long waitlists that had just 15% of at-risk students enrolled (city-wide, 45% of students are at-risk). At these schools, given the preference siblings get in the lottery, it was hard for at-risk students to snag a coveted spot.

They found that giving them an edge in the lottery, even less of one than the sibling priority, could increase their match rates from 4% to 42%.

Read more: What experts say needs to be done to disrupt historic patterns of segregation in DC’s schools | Greater Greater Washington

Related: Landscape of Diversity in D.C. Public Schools | D.C. Policy Center

Related: At-risk priority in D.C.’s common lottery: Potential implications for access and diversity | D.C. Policy Center

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D.C. Policy Center


Established in 2016, the D.C. Policy Center is a non-partisan research and policy organization committed to advancing policies for a strong and vibrant economy in the District of Columbia. Through rigorous research and collaboration, the D.C. Policy Center develops and tests policy ideas, disseminates its findings, and engages in constructive dialogue and debate.

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