Indiana’s Schooling Deserts: Identifying Hoosier Communities Lacking Highly Rated Schools, Multi-Sector Options


  • Aug 22 2018

Indiana’s Schooling Deserts

By Drew Catt, Michael Shaw

Indiana’s Schooling Deserts uses Geographic Information System (GIS) software to generate drive-time distances to different schooling types to examine the state’s robust K–12 choice environment, under which more than 100,000 families are choosing a school for their children other than one that has been residentially assigned. The maps produced for this report show where families do not have options when it comes to highly rated or non-traditional schooling options and where policymakers and education entrepreneurs might find opportunity to support or grow more high-quality options.

Click here to listen to the authors talk about their findings on the EdChoice Chats podcast.

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What Will I Learn? Download Report

Breaking Down "Indiana's Schooling Deserts"

In this report, you will learn:

  • 1

    Indiana is a choice-rich state, but there is still work to be done when it comes to accessibility.

    Indiana has been lauded as a land of educational opportunity, but that does not mean all parts of the state have equitable access to K–8 or high school options, creating so-called “schooling deserts” where families either lack access to highly rated schools or to options beyond one schooling type—or, in some cases, both. There also exist parts of the state where students only have access to a poorly rated school of any type.
  • 2

    The good news: Most Indiana students are close to an A-rated public, private or charter school.

    Nine out of 10 Hoosier families are a 15-minute drive or less from an A-rated K–8 school of any type (public, private or charter) and a 21-minute drive from an A-rated high school of any type. All Indiana students are within 45 minutes of an A-rated school of any type.
  • 3

    Yet tens of thousands of Hoosier students live in choice deserts, where they lack access to options beyond their assigned public school.

    According to our geospatial analyses, there are 24,810 K–8 students (2.8 percent) who live in a K–8 choice desert, meaning they are 30 minutes or more away from any K–8 charter, magnet or voucher-participating school. That number jumps significantly for high schoolers—45,072 students (9.8 percent) live in a high school choice desert.
  • 4

    And educational opportunity zones define areas of need for policymakers and educational entrepreneurs.

    Certain parts of the state are struggling to provide quality regardless of school type. Many students live in educational opportunity zones, where students are zoned to attend a D- or F-rated public school but have no reasonable access—a 30-minute drive or less—to a charter, magnet or voucher-participating private school that isn’t poorly rated. Though we can’t say exactly how many students live within these opportunity zones because of data limitations, we do know that about 7,000 K–8 students and about 400 high school students attend the D- or F-rated schools marked on our maps.

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