The State of Detroit Schools, Students, and Families
This presentation was given in a series of State of the Schools events organized by our partner 482Forward.
Socioeconomic Status, School Enrollment, School Transportation, and Student Attendance Survey of Detroit Families
This study incorporates data from a representative survey of Detroit students’ families in DPSCD neighborhood schools, DPSCD app/exam schools, and Detroit charter schools. By linking survey data on family socioeconomic circumstances (e.g., employment, income, housing, transportation) with student-level administrative data, we are able to explore factors that shape student enrollment and attendance that are typically not observable in administrative data alone.
Housing, Transportation, and Attendance
This is a mixed-methods study on the school enrollment, transportation, and attendance patterns of Detroit families who have experienced eviction or homelessness.
School Access and Transportation in a Time of COVID
This study examines the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on school mobility and enrollment in Detroit and NYC.
Accessing Education in Detroit: Neighborhood Safety, School Choice, and Attendance
We will establish new evidence on the neighborhood factors that shape Detroit students’ enrollment and attendance patterns through an innovative qualitative data collection effort that will serve as a baseline for future longitudinal studies and a population-level study on the effect of neighborhood crime and police exposure on student outcomes.
Economic and Educational Opportunity in the Context of Neighborhood Change: An Evaluation of the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative in Detroit
This is a mixed-methods longitudinal study of the social, economic, and educational impact of a major community development intervention in Corktown, a mixed-income neighborhood in Detroit.
Beyond the Bus: Reconceptualizing School Transportation for Mobility Justice
This essay combines an ecological perspective with a mobility justice theoretical framework to reconceptualize the relationship between school transportation and educational access. Authors Sarah Winchell Lenhoff, Jeremy Singer, Kimberly Stokes, James Bear Mahowald, and Sahar Khawaja document the problem of “getting to school ”that is at the intersection of students’ family, community, and social contexts and how it goes beyond whether there is a reliable mode of physical transportation. Bringing together a historical analysis of the policy landscapeand interview data from parents and students in Detroit, they find that school transportation problems reflect the unequal political, social, and economic context in which families navigate enrollment and attendance. They discuss how policymakers can advance mobility justice in school policy by equitably distributing transportation resources, engaging students and parents as experts in developing and communicating transportation policy, and using institutional power to remedy structural barriers to educational access.
School Transit and Accessing Public School in Detroit
Students in the Detroit Public Community Schools District (DPSCD) have the highest rate of chronic absence (missing 10% or more of school days) among large districts in the United States. Additionally, students in DPSCD are among the poorest students in the country, often lacking access to reliable personal transportation or public transit to facilitate getting to school. Although DPSCD offers school-sponsored transit, only 30% of K-8 students were eligible for such transit in 2018-19. Through the use of multilevel modeling, we sought to identify the association between eligibility for school-sponsored transit and attendance. Our findings indicated that there was a negative association of small magnitude between eligibility for school sponsored transit and school attendance. This counterintuitive finding may highlight the fact that transit eligibility is not sufficient to mediate the negative relationship between student poverty and attendance, and transit eligibility does not guarantee regular use of school-sponsored transit.
Race, geography, and school choice policy: A critical analysis of Detroit students’ suburban school choices
The purpose of this study is to advance our thinking about race and racism in geospatial analyses of school choice policy. To do so, we present a critical race spatial analysis of Detroit students’ suburban school choices. To frame our study, we describe the racial and spatial dynamics of school choice, drawing in particular on the concepts of opportunity hoarding and predatory landscapes. We find that Detroit students’ suburban school choices were circumscribed by racial geography and concentrated in just a handful of schools and districts. We also find notable differences between students in different racial groups. For all Detroit exiters, their schools were significantly more segregated and lower quality than those of their suburban peers. We propose future directions for research on families’ school choices as well as school and district behavior at the intersection of race, geography, and school choice policy.
Detroit Schools Enrollment 17-18 to 20-21
This is a spreadsheet of enrollment and demographic data from Detroit public schools (DPSCD and Detroit charters), aggregated from the CEPI Public Use Datafiles. It includes data from the school years 2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20, and 2020-21.
Why do Detroit Students Miss School? Implications for Returning to School
This report documents the reasons why Detroit students miss school, based on interviews with parents and high school students in 2020. Transportation was by far the most frequent and pervasive barrier to attendance that we heard from families. Yet, issues with getting to school were more complex than immediate access to transportation. They emerged from a combination of unreliable or inconsistent availability of transportation, weak social networks, parents’ work schedules, unsafe conditions, and more. Health issues, acute and chronic physical health issues in particular, but also mental health and parent health issues, created barriers to attendance. Parents expressed a strong understanding that missing school jeopardized students’ learning, and they went to great lengths to get their children to school. Parents also weighed serious trade-offs between attendance, safety, health, and family income, reflecting the unjust conditions they face.
Unregulated Open Enrollment and Inequitable Access to Schools of Choice
In severing the link between residential address and school assignment, school choice policies have the potential to decrease school segregation and increase educational equity. Yet, this promise is undermined when school choice creates greater opportunity for those who are already privileged while limiting access to students from historically marginalized groups. This study combines data from a new survey of local open enrollment policies in Metro Detroit, student-level administrative records, and geographic data to critically analyze the local discretion provided in Michigan’s interdistrict school choice policy in relation to the goals of access to schools of choice, desegregation, and educational equity. I find that local school districts implement provisions of state policy in ways that restrict access to Black and economically disadvantaged students while creating pathways of opportunity for others. Districts are incentivized to implement these restrictions because of the inequities built into the state school funding formula and the racialized geography of Metro Detroit that is mechanized in district and county boundaries to restrict access. This study has implications for the regulation of local school choice markets and the role they play in increasing equitable public school opportunities.
Exiting Detroit for School: Inequitable Choice Sets and School Quality
Research has documented the complexity of parent-decision making within school choice marketplaces, including the ways in which individual preferences, social networks, and geography influence where parents choose to enroll their children in school. Yet, parent choices are constrained by the ways in which these dynamics intersect with existing school characteristics and locations. By constructing unique choice set “landscapes” for 194 Detroit neighborhoods, taking into account where current neighbors attend school in the city, this paper contributes new evidence on the influence of peer enrollment on school choosing, and how peer choice sets differ from students’ nearest schools. We find that parents are responsive to lower quality schools in their choice sets when choosing to exit and that choice set quality varies by race, with Black students having lower quality schools in their Detroit choice sets.
School Characteristics and Student Mobility in Detroit
Within- and between-year mobility was particularly high among Detroit resident students compared to other students in Metro Detroit. Students were less likely to make a within-year move if they attended a school categorized as having a high rating in organizational climate, as measured by the 5Essentials surveys. Rates of school-level chronic absence were associated with both within- and between-year mobility, suggesting that other elements of school organizational climate may influence student movement.
Student Exit, Mobility, and Attendance in Detroit
This comprehensive report documents Detroit students' school choices, attendance, and mobility as of 2017-18. Nearly a quarter of Detroit students attended a public school in the suburbs in 2017-18. Most had previously attended school in Detroit. Students were more likely to have attended school outside the city when they had fewer city schools near where they lived, raising important policy questions about school locations, closures, and access. Seventeen percent of Detroit students switched schools between school years when they were not in a transition year. Early elementary school and 9th grade students were most likely to be movers, and more than half of all non-routine moves were among students who did not change residence, suggesting that dissatisfaction, disciplinary pushout, or other school-level issues may be contributing to mobility. More than half of students who attended school in Detroit were chronically absent, missing 10% or more of the school year. Controlling for individual student characteristics, students were more likely to be chronically absent if they attended a school with high rates of student mobility, were new to the school, commuted further to get to school, and when they lived in neighborhoods with higher asthma rates.