Attention: This site looks better in the latest Mozilla or Internet Explorer.

The Learning Conference 2003

Home | Newsletter | Call for Papers | Register

Presentation Details


The Impact of Desegregation on Improving Minority Student Achievement: An Emprical Assessment of Little Rock School District

Dr Sean Mulvenon.

The Little Rock School District (LRSD) was desegrated in 1957 when black students were admitted to the all white Little Rock Central High School. This was the beginning of a nationwide process to ensure that all U.S. students would benefit from equal educational opportunity without regard to race, gender, physical or mental abilities. This movement has fueled the dispute about what constitutes 1) fair and equal access to education and 2) an unbiased and fair measurement of educational objectives and student achievement. Although the racial demographics of the United States are growing increasingly more diverse, black versus white educational opportunities remain a pervasive issue. Does equal access to education exist and is the educational system effectively reducing the longstanding gaps in black and white student achievement?

Major Research Objectives

The existence of an educational performance gap between Black and White students in any educational system is unacceptable. The purpose of desegregation in LRSD was to eliminate the impact of a (perceived) racially biased or inequitable system by ensuring educational equity to Black students. To evaluate the effect of desegregation in LRSD, the program must be evaluated relative to the “system” as a whole, or to the performance of other Black students within Arkansas. If desegregation (limited to LRSD) is effective, and other factors approximately equal, then Black students in LRSD should be outperforming their Black peers in other Arkansas school districts. Further, because the language of the desegregation plan stipulates that the program must provide equivalent educational opportunities to all students, White students in LRSD should also outperform other White students in Arkansas, given the additional resources provided through the desegregation plan.

Major Outcome

The results from this study suggest desegregation has been ineffective in improving Black student achievement or more specifically, closing the gap between black and white achievement. Further, students who may be benefitting the most from desegregration are in fact White students.


Dr Sean Mulvenon  (United States)
College of Education and Health Professions
University of Arkansas

A Professor of Educational Statistics and Research Methods who is the director of the National Office of Rural Measurement and Evaluation Systems. He has published over 30 manuscripts, 1 text, presented over 100 manuscripts at national and international conferences, and generated of 4 million in external research funding.

  • Desegregation
  • Minority Achievement
  • Longitudinal Analysis

(Virtual Presentation, English)