At talk at UVa, a 'disturbing picture of racial inequality in education'

October 09, 2016

By Josh Mandell

Socioeconomic status and academic achievement are less correlated in Virginia than in most other states, according to recent study by a Stanford University researcher.

Sean Reardon, Stanford’s endowed Professor of Poverty and Inequality in Education, gave a lecture Friday at the University of Virginia. The talk was sponsored by EdPolicyWorks, a collaboration between UVa’s Curry School of Education and Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.

Reardon shared findings from his study of a dataset of more than 200 million student test scores from 2009 to 2013 that has allowed him to study racial and ethnic achievement gaps at an unprecedented level of detail.

In August, Reardon co-authored a New York Times op-ed with Curry School professor Daphna Bassok. They presented evidence indicating that some national educational achievement gaps have become smaller since the 1990s.

Reardon said it took two years to convince the U.S. Department of Education to give him and his colleagues the testing data and another two years to get permission to make it freely available online.

“As far as I could tell, nobody was actually doing anything with it,” Reardon said. “If we are going to give kids 250 million tests, we ought to learn something from them.”