Racial, socioeconomic, and gender disparities in academic performance and educational attainment are stubborn features of the U.S. educational system. These disparities are neither inevitable nor immutable, however. They have been produced by—and so may also be reduced by—a welter of social and economic policies, social norms and patterns of interaction, and the organization of American schooling.

The Stanford Education Data Archive (SEDA) is an initiative aimed at harnessing data to help us—scholars, policymakers, educators, parents—learn how to improve educational opportunity for all children. We are making the data files public so that anyone who is interested can obtain detailed information about American schools, communities, and student success. We hope that researchers will use these to generate evidence about what policies and contexts are most effective at increasing educational opportunity, and that such evidence will inform educational policy and practices.

SEDA includes a range of detailed data on educational conditions, contexts, and outcomes in schools and school districts across the United States. It includes data at a range of institutional and geographic levels of aggregation, including schools, districts, counties, commuting zones, metropolitan areas, and states. It includes measures of academic achievement, achievement gaps, school and neighborhood racial and socioeconomic composition, school and neighborhood racial and socioeconomic segregation patterns, and other features of the schooling system. The data will be regularly updated as more data become available.

Americans have long had a deep and abiding belief that education is the engine of opportunity in the United States. Schools, we believe, provide an opportunity for children—no matter their sex, their race, where their parents come from, or how meager their resources—to learn, to flourish, and to achieve the American Dream. There is truth to this belief: education in America has helped provide opportunities for millions of U.S. children, many of whom were not born and raised in advantaged conditions. But this truth is tempered by a large body of evidence demonstrating large racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and, in some cases, gender disparities in educational success. This suggests that historically not all children in the United States have had equal access to the American Dream. Our educational system has provided opportunity, but has not always provide it equally.

The goal of the Educational Opportunity Monitoring Project is to use the best available data to clarify patterns and trends in the equality of educational opportunities and outcomes in the United States. Patterns of educational inequality have changed over time; they vary among states and school districts; they take different forms among students at different ages; and their trends in different population groups are not the same. Some aspects of educational inequality have been improving; others have worsened. A detailed understanding of these patterns and trends is essential both for understanding the causes of educational inequalities and for designing strategies to eliminate them.

Racial and Ethnic Achievement Gaps

US higher education is undergoing profound change. How Americans fund, govern, assess, and experience college all are in flux. The changes are particularly dramatic for broad-access colleges with open admissions that educate the vast majority of college students. Broad-access colleges do their work within a complex ecology of competitor schools and other educational firms, government funding programs, and myriad regulatory agencies. Our project is designed to help researchers, students, and policymakers understand, navigate, and shape this ecology productively.

This study is a randomized trial of a social-psychological intervention designed to promote the academic performance of minority students by buffering them against stereotype threat. A large body of lab-experimental evidence and several recent field-experimental studies suggest that the anxiety experienced by minority students in evaluative settings when a stereotyped social identity is salient (i.e., stereotype threat) compromises cognitive performance. This replication study examines the efficacy of a writing intervention in reducing achievement gaps among middle school students. Professor Thomas S. Dee is directing this study with support from the Spencer Foundation and the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).