What Matters for Student Achievement: Updating Coleman on the influence of families and schools
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This resource, which includes an article with an accompanying podcast interview with the author, is part of an Education Next series commemorating the 50th anniversary of James S. Coleman’s groundbreaking report, Equality of Educational Opportunity, which profiled Black and White student achievement gaps in 1965. The article provides interesting and useful historical information on Coleman’s findings, which are both consistent and inconsistent with more current studies focused on identifying factors influencing student achievement gaps.
By juxtaposing data from the 2013 National Assessment Educational Progress with findings from the historic Coleman report, this resource emphasizes the challenge and continuing disparity of the achievement gap between Black and White students. The article is succinct in its presentation with accompanying charts and graphs. It is enhanced by an accompanying podcast in which the author discusses the historical nature of the Coleman report and some of the inaccurate conclusions drawn from its data. One of the findings from the Coleman report consistent with more recent research is related to funding support. The article notes that simply increasing per-pupil spending by itself does not correlate to higher student achievement. Both the Coleman report and more current research note the importance of how additional funding is spent if student outcomes are to be impacted.