Young people in America today are growing up in an era of striking, and in some cases, unprecedented, social inequalities. Economic inequality is at a record high. Today 22% of all income in the US goes to top 1% of earners, while 50 years ago only 10% of total income went to the top 1%. This economic inequality is mirrored in the large educational, health, and political disparities between the children of the rich and the poor.
Racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in academic achievement remain a stubborn feature of U.S. schooling. National studies consistently show that the average non-Hispanic black student scores well below the average non-Hispanic white student on standardized tests of math and reading skills, as does the average Hispanic student. Likewise, the average student from a low-income family scores much lower on such tests than students from higher-income families. Considerable attention has been focused on achievement gaps, particularly the black-white achievement gap.
Education policy decisions are both normatively and empirically challenging. These decisions require the consideration of both relevant values and empirical facts. Values tell us what we have reason to care about, and facts can be used to describe what is possible. Following Hamlin and Stemplowska, we distinguish between a theory of ideals and descriptions of feasibility. We argue that when feasibility constraints are used to rank competing states of affairs, two things must be articulated. First, one must explain why one feasibility constraint is preferred over another.
Since the Supreme Court's 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, researchers and policymakers have paid close attention to trends in school segregation. While Brown focused on black-white segregation, we review the evidence regarding trends and consequences of both racial and economic school segregation. In general, the evidence regarding trends in racial segregation suggests that the most significant declines in black-white school segregation occurred at the end of the 1960s and the start of the 1970s.
One of the goals of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB; 20 U.S.C. § 6301) was to close racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps. Over a decade has passed since NCLB went into effect. In this paper we investigate whether the Act has been successful at narrowing racial achievement gaps. Overall, our analyses provide no support for the hypothesis that No Child Left Behind has led, on average, to a narrowing of racial achievement gaps.
In this paper we combine National Assessment of Educational Progress and state accountability test data to examine variation among states in achievement gap levels and trends. Although national trends in gaps have been well studied, little research has examined variation in gaps across states or the extent to which differences in state demographics or policies account for these differences.
If we do not find ways to reduce the growing inequality in education outcomes – between the rich and the poor – schools will no longer be the great equalizer we want them to be
Has the academic achievement gap between students from high-income and low-income families changed in the last few decades? And if so, why?
Almost fifty years ago, in 1966, the Coleman Report famously highlighted the relationship between family socioeconomic status and student achievement. Family socioeconomic characteristics continue to be among the strongest predictors of student achievement, but while there is a considerable body of research that seeks to tease apart this relationship, the causes and mechanisms of this relationship have been the subject of considerable disagreement and debate.
Three key themes reverberate throughout this volume. An equity and excellence theme emphasizes that the creation of high-quality learning opportunities is a core value shared by all the authors of this volume. An elephants theme (as in the poem “The Blind Men and the Elephant” by John Godfrey Saxe) reminds us that our educational system includes a multiplicity of subsystems that may or may not amount to a fully functioning and healthy elephant and needs to be understood holistically in order to make true progress.
Contemporaneous and longitudinal associations between social behavior and literacy achievement in low-Income elementary school children
This study investigates associations between social skills (aggression and prosocial behavior) and literacy achievement in a sample of low-income children (between 4 and 6 years old when the study began) during elementary school. Results revealed consistent associations between social skills and literacy achievement in the first, third, and fifth grades, but the patterns of the associations were different for aggression and prosocial behavior.