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What does an index of school segregation measure?

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The article aims to make a methodological contribution to the education segregation literature, providing a critique of previous measures of segregation used in the literature, as well as suggesting an alternative approach to measuring segregation. Specifically, the paper examines Gorard, Fitz and Taylor's finding that social segregation between schools, as measured by free school meals (FSM) entitlement, fell significantly in the years following the 1988 Education Reform Act. Using Annual Schools Census data from 1989 to 2004, the paper challenges the magnitude of their findings, suggesting that the method used by Gorard et al. seriously overstates the size of the fall in segregation. We make the case for a segregation curve approach to measuring segregation, where comparisons of the level of segregation are possible regardless of the percentage FSM eligibility. Using this approach, we develop a new method for describing both the level and the location of school segregation.

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