Racial School Segregation and the Transition to College
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Prior studies generally find that attending black-segregated schools is detrimental across a range of academic outcomes, but much research on the causes and consequences of school segregation rely on single time-point measures of student exposure. Demographic shifts and educational policy changes in the last two decades increase the possibility that students experience different racial compositions throughout their educational careers and underscore the need to better understand how different patterns of exposure over time affect student outcomes. This dissertation identifies distinct trajectories of exposure to racially segregated schools for a national sample of a student cohort, examines factors that predict trajectory membership, and estimates the consequences of different patterns of exposure on postsecondary college outcomes. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (1997), Common Core Data, and the Private School Survey, I find that the vast majority of students belong to stable exposure trajectories, either consistently exposed or consistently non-exposed to black-segregated schools; a smaller proportion of students belong to dynamic trajectories, either exiting or entering black-segregated schools. The pattern of racial change (or stability) at the school level, as opposed to student school mobility, is the primary predictor of a student’s own segregation exposure trajectory. I find a key difference in college outcomes along different temporal dimensions of segregation exposure, particularly that exposure later in high school, but not early in middle school, is detrimental to college enrollment and completion. These findings provide direction for educational policy and motivate future research to uncover the mechanisms responsible.