Research Summary

My research did not necessarily follow its projected path, but I’m very happy with where it ended up. I talked before in a previous blog post about switching my focus from urban/suburban districts to a singular school district (Henrico). In the end, I was able to come up with a lot more compelling data points because of that decision. My final product feels to me like it could be the first step in a much longer research project, meaning the answers I came up with really just prompted new questions for the future.

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Research Update 2: Achievement Gap Graphs

At this point, I’m writing my research paper and attempting to cohesively organize all of the articles I have read and the data I have collected. I want this post to be about the achievement gap within Henrico County that I managed to document. I’ve uploaded a few graphs to make that what I’m talking about is easier to understand. The discrepancy in SOL scores – which is designed to measure achievement in Virginia public school students – is undeniable. We also have to look at this in context. Systems working against Black Americans have not disappeared since the 13th amendment was passed in 1865 or the mid-20th century Civil Rights Movement. Instead, these systems were discreetly reinvented and rephrased by White lawmakers and voters alike. The justice system, housing segregation, job discrimination, and public schooling are all rooted in institutions meant to ensure democracy and opportunity but which have been perverted to block Black Americans’ upward mobility.

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Research Update 1: Compiling & Organizing VDOE Data

So far, I have been gathering data from the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE). Most records – including school funding, demographics, and performance – are open to the public. Despite this, or maybe because of this, the VDOE website is insanely convoluted and difficult to navigate. It’s taken awhile to find data and organize it in a way that actually makes sense. The end goal is to be able to show relationships, or lack thereof, between variables such as performance, funding, and demographics. Over time I have compiled a good deal of information on Richmond City and Henrico County high schools and have a lot of color-coded spreadsheets to show for my effort.

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Public School Funding and Performance – Abstract

Virginia has a long history of denying equal opportunity to its residents — particularly in regards to education. Virginia school systems were not fully integrated until the 1970’s, around two decades after the landmark Brown v. Board decision. Schools remain segregated due to housing discrimination and patterns of white flight. And although I personally privileged from this system I was not blind to its effects. As a recently graduated high school student with siblings and friends still in Virginia public schools, this work feels particularly relevant to me.

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