The effect of court-ordered busing for desegregation and the creation of magnet schools on student achievement

Geraldine Pisacreta, Fordham University


The purpose of this case study is to examine the effect of court-mandated busing for racial/ethnic equality in a large urban school system. Two of the resultant magnet schools were compared in the area of grade 3 reading and mathematics achievement as measured by the New York State Pupil Evaluation Program (PEP) test. Interviews were conducted with parents, teachers, principals, and the Assistant Superintendent Restructuring and Special Initiatives to ascertain their perceptions of this phenomenon as well as their perceptions about children's attitudes toward schooling as a result of this desegregation effort. In addition, an examination of school documents was also conducted. Third-grade achievement on the New York State PEP Tests in reading and mathematics for two magnet schools was examined. These data were compared before and after desegregation as were the differences in percentages of minority population within the schools. More than 10 years after integration first took place and magnet schools were created, parents and teachers still spoke about desegregation as if it happened yesterday. Teachers, however, spoke about it in a negative vein because they saw different solutions to fixing the problem at the time. Parents, however, looked at busing as a way of life and discussed the positive effect it had on their children. When comparing third-grade PEP test scores, both schools have followed a predictable pattern caused by change. Although both schools immediately dropped, today both schools score about the 86th percentile in mathematics and reading PEP tests. However, mastery scores show that the creation of magnet schools to achieve racial and ethnic equality, although it seems to help student achievement, is not enough by itself to increase student achievement to mastery levels. In Yonkers, where court-mandated busing for desegregation led to the creation of magnet schools, classes continue to be large and the instructional materials in many schools are limited, because funding has not increased in all schools. However, magnet schools are gaining support in the race for school choice. This may have a future impact on the Yonkers magnet schools and their ability to deliver high quality academic achievement.

Subject Area

School administration|Elementary education|Law|Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

Pisacreta, Geraldine, "The effect of court-ordered busing for desegregation and the creation of magnet schools on student achievement" (1998). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9923441.