Segregation still prevalent in Indiana schools

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Indiana schools on average remain largely segregated by race, ethnicity and family income, according to data recently analyzed by the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy at the IU School of Education in partnership with the Civil Rights Project at UCLA.

Although Indiana has seen rapid growth in the enrollment of non-White students, overall interactions between White and non-White students remain low. For example, the average Black student in Indiana attends a school where 68 percent of the students are non-White, while the average White student in Indiana attends a school where 19 percent of the students are non-White.

CEEP has been examining how demographic shifts are changing the composition of Indiana's schools. The researchers used Common Core of Data school enrollment information from the National Center for Education Statistics to illustrate enrollment trends within and across school districts from 1988 until 2015. The analysis, unveiled on the 63rd anniversary of the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision, shows that the lack of integration (or racial and socioeconomic diversity) in Indiana schools largely reflects residential segregation.

"While schools in Indiana remain segregated, this is primarily due to large-scale rural-versus-urban residential patterns," said Thomas Sugimoto, CEEP Evaluation Coordinator.

In urban Indiana counties, such as Lake County, Allen County and Marion County, the research finds segregation by race or ethnicity is related to school district boundaries, as well as school attendance boundaries within districts. Meanwhile, segregation by income level is found in both rural and urban areas and is often linked to racial segregation. On average, non-White students in Indiana are more likely than White students to attend schools where more than half the students receive free meals.

Research has found a clear correlation between racial segregation and academic achievement gaps; racial achievement gaps are also influenced by students’ exposure level to low poverty students. U.S. schools became less segregated after Brown v. Board of Education, but segregation in many states has increased in recent decades, and segregation by socioeconomic status has become more prevalent.

A first step in addressing school segregation is to analyze the data and understand enrollment patterns. To assist the variety of audiences that will be interested in what these data show about segregation in Indiana schools, CEEP has developed an interactive website where visitors can examine the information at the state level, or drill down geographically into the data to the local level. The site includes historical summaries of Indiana’s Black and Latino/a populations, and the legal background of segregation in the state. These summaries provide important context for examination of the site’s data.

“An important goal of this project was to make data available to policy makers, educators, and the public in a user-friendly way so that they can explore the data at a state, regional or local level,” said research assistant Jodi S. Moon.

Complete analysis of the project, including visual breakdowns, is available at

“This state report is an important contribution. It is important for Hoosiers to recognize that research shows that segregated schools are systematically unequal and history shows that Indiana did much more about this problem before the courts withdrew and needs to think again about positive strategies,” said Gary Orfield Distinguished Research Professor of Education, Law, Political Science and Urban Planning at the University of California, Los Angeles and co-director of the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA.