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ERIC Number: ED527481
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jan
Pages: 101
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: N/A
Evaluation of Connecticut's Interdistrict Magnet Schools
Cobb, Casey D.; Bifulco, Robert; Bell, Courtney
Center for Education Policy Analysis
As of October 2007, 54 interdistrict magnet schools enrolling 18,928 students were operating in Connecticut. The bulk of these schools are located in the Hartford and New Haven areas--21 in the Hartford area and 17 in the New Haven area. Interdistrict magnets also serve significant numbers of students in the Waterbury region. In keeping with the mandate of "Sheff v. O'Neill," the express purposes of interdistrict magnet schools are "to reduce, eliminate or prevent racial, ethnic or economic isolation while offering a high-quality curriculum that supports educational improvement." This report examines the extent to which interdistrict magnet schools provide students in the cities of Hartford, New Haven, and Waterbury access to less isolated environments. In addition, the authors report the results of a student survey that provides information on intergroup relations, perceptions of teachers, academic engagement and other aspects of students' experiences in interdistrict magnet schools. Finally, they estimate the impacts of attending an interdistrict magnet school on student achievement. This report highlights many positive aspects of Connecticut's interdistrict magnet schools. These are: (1) These schools provide access to less isolated learning environments for the minority students from Connecticut's most isolated central cities than do the non-magnet schools located in those cities; (2) Magnet schools, on average, appear to provide an academic climate similar to that found in a wealthy, suburban high school, and peer support for academic achievement is stronger in magnet than in non-magnet city schools; (3) Magnet school students report more positive intergroup relations than in either the city or suburban non-magnet schools that the authors surveyed; (4) Focusing on city students, there were very few differences in attitudes between 9th grade magnet students and 9th grade students in non-magnet schools. Twelve graders in magnet schools, however, feel significantly closer to White students, are more likely to have multiple White friends, have higher expectations for college, have fewer absences and skip classes much less frequently than students attending non-magnet city schools; and (5) On average, interdistrict magnet high schools have positive effects on both math and reading achievement, and interdistrict magnet middle schools have positive effects on reading achievement. Taken as a whole these findings indicate that interdistrict magnets are largely meeting their mission of providing learning environments that are both more diverse and more conducive to academic achievement than would otherwise be available to students in Connecticut's central cities. There are also reasons to believe that these more diverse and academically oriented environments are associated with more positive intergroup attitudes and relations and improved academic performance for individual students. Along with these overall positive findings, the report also reveals some areas where magnet school operators and state policy makers might focus attention moving forward. Perceptions of teacher-student relationships and sense of safety and belonging were slightly lower among magnet students compared to some non-magnet schools. The authors encourage teachers and administrators working in the magnet schools to consider whether or not this finding is applicable to their students, and to search for ways they might address this concern. For policy makers, an important concern is that the proportion of students from the central cities who attend diverse interdistrict magnet schools is low. This is true in part because there are some magnet schools that have had only limited success attracting diverse student bodies, but more significantly because the number of seats in diverse magnet schools is limited. The authors encourage policy makers to continue to search for ways to reduce racial, ethnic, and economic isolation for a larger proportion of central city students. Appended are: (1) High School Student Survey; (2) Survey Sampling Frame; (3) Scale Construction and Internal Consistency; (4) Descriptive Summaries for Magnet Schools and Students; and (5) Student Achievement Analysis. (Contains 43 tables, 4 figures and 46 footnotes.)
Center for Education Policy Analysis. 249 Glenbrook Road Unit 2093, Storrs, CT 06269. Tel: 860-486-4812; Fax: 860-486-4028; Web site: http://www.education.uconn.edu/research/CEPA
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; Grade 12; Grade 9; High Schools; Middle Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: Teachers; Administrators; Policymakers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: University of Connecticut, Center for Education Policy Analysis
Identifiers - Location: Connecticut
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Connecticut Mastery Testing Program