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In Connecticut, the majority of low-income children, unlike their higher-income peers, are enrolled in the poorest performing public schools, which leads to economically segregated school district populations. These observations raise important questions about the external barriers that prevent economic diversity in Connecticut’s schools. The study identifies housing policy – specifically, restrictive zoning practices – as an external barrier and raises two questions: Does restrictive zoning correlate with the price of single-family homes? Is residential zoning policy associated with school district performance? Employing a cross-sectional, quantitative approach, this study examines the consequences of housing policy on public school district performance. Data are collected on municipal-level zoning ordinances for 166 municipalities in Connecticut and on statewide standardized exam scores by school district. The findings suggest that restrictive residential zoning policies that limit the development of economically diverse housing correlate with school district performance. The results do not suggest strong correlations between restrictive zoning and housing cost; however the findings suggest the less restrictive the municipal zoning policy, the lower the school district performance on state exams. These findings recognize a housing policy that contributes to the economic segregation of Connecticut public schools and arguably to the significant difference in performance among public schools.


Community Partner: Connecticut Fair Housing Center