Monday, March 21, 2011

Dallas Federal Reserve finds Those People aren't bad for school scores necessarily

The Dallas Federal Reserve has posted a study whose questions were seemingly designed to test standard assumptions of American racism. It considered whether children who moved into buildings funded by the low-income housing tax credit tended to raise or lower test scores in their new school districts, and what that might have to do with the "income and share of minorities" in the neighborhoods they moved to. There are several symposia worth of things wrong with the way that question is asked, but it's probably not the study designers' fault. It sounds like they were just repeating a question frequently posed by local NIMBY bigots who oppose tax-credit housing. The results:
"Adding LIHTC units appears to positively, not negatively, influence a school’s accountability rating in the year the projects open, our analysis found. However, that effect is temporary, largely disappearing after a year. Schools with nearby LIHTC units were classified by income and share of minorities in nearby census blocks. The estimates suggest that the positive influence is largely driven by the housing units constructed in higher-income census areas, while the negative, offsetting data come from LIHTC census block groups with greater minority or lower-income populations. The program’s influence on schools also depends on whether the project is new construction or rehabilitation. New buildings seem to contribute to improvement of academic performance at the nearest elementary schools."
In other words, children conform to their environments' expectations.

Item via the National Housing & Rehabilitation Association newsletter, put out by the same people who run the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders' Association.

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