Digitization and Divergence: Online School Ratings and Segregation in America

Sharique Hasan and Anuj Kumar:

We analyze whether widespread online access to school-performance information affected economic and social segregation in America. We leverage the staged rollout of GreatSchools.org school ratings from 2006–2015 to answer this question. Across a range of outcomes and specifications, we find that the mass availability of school ratings has accelerated divergence in housing values, income distributions and education levels as well as the racial and ethnic composition across communities. Affluent and more educated families were better positioned to leverage this new information to capture educational opportunities in communities with the best schools. An unintended consequence of better information was less, rather than more, equity in education.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.