Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Coleman Report at 50: Was Coleman “Right,” Have We Made Progress? What Have We Learned? | Ed In The Apple

The Coleman Report at 50: Was Coleman “Right,” Have We Made Progress? What Have We Learned? | Ed In The Apple:

The Coleman Report at 50: Was Coleman “Right,” Have We Made Progress? What Have We Learned?

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Fifty years after the release of the Coleman Report Johns Hopkins University commissioned fourteen scholars to examine the findings of the report and convened a conference to discuss the research papers. The papers can be read on the Russell Sage Foundation website.
Ten years after the 1954 Board v Board of Education Supreme Court decision called for the end of school segregation “with all deliberate speed,” the pace of desegregation was minimal; however, less than a year after the assassination of JFK President Johnson signed an iconic piece of legislation: the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Under Title 1 of the law federal dollars would flow to high poverty schools; while the pace of school desegregation might be slow at least resources would assist schools in repairing the damage of segregation. The law also required a study to emphasize the “lack of availability of equal educational access.” The law stated,
The Commissioner [of Education] shall conduct a survey and make a report to the President and the Congress, within two years of the enactment, concerning the lack of availability of equal educational opportunity for individuals by reason of race, color, religion, or national origin in public institutions at all levels in the United States, its territories and possessions, and the District of Columbia.
James Coleman, a professor at Johns Hopkins University was commissioned to “conduct a survey and make a report to the President.”
The report concluded that school resource disparities revolving around race distinctively were not large … differences by race within the same geographic space generally were small, too small to account for what today we call the black-white achievement gap.
The report was not what Congress expected and it was released on the 4th of July in 1966, clearly hoping the report would not receive media scrutiny. The findings of the report were “truly groundbreaking … both surprising and, for many, disappointing.”
The key findings:
  1. differences across schools in average achievement levels were small compared to differences in achievement levels within schools;
  2. the differences in achievement levels detected did not align appreciably with differences in school resources other than the socioeconomic makeup of the student body; and
  3. family background factors afforded a much more powerful accounting of achievement differences than did any and all characteristics of the schools that children attended
Sean Reardon, from Stanford University, looks at the findings of the 1966 report and data today: do the findings hold up to scrutiny?
Rather depressingly Reardon finds “… clear evidence that one aspect of The Coleman Report at 50: Was Coleman “Right,” Have We Made Progress? What Have We Learned? | Ed In The Apple:


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