Inequality for All: The Challenge of Unequal Opportunity in American Schools

Overview

Inequality for All makes an important contribution to current debates about economic inequalities and the growing achievement gap, particularly in mathematics and science education. The authors argue that the greatest source of variation in opportunity to learn is not between local communities, or even schools, but between classrooms. They zero in on one of the core elements of schooling—coverage of subject matter content—and examine how such opportunities are distributed across the millions of school children in...

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Inequality for All: The Challenge of Unequal Opportunity in American Schools

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Overview

Inequality for All makes an important contribution to current debates about economic inequalities and the growing achievement gap, particularly in mathematics and science education. The authors argue that the greatest source of variation in opportunity to learn is not between local communities, or even schools, but between classrooms. They zero in on one of the core elements of schooling—coverage of subject matter content—and examine how such opportunities are distributed across the millions of school children in the United States. Drawing on data from the third TIMMS international study of curriculum and achievement, as well as a six-district study of over 500 schools across the United States, they point to Common Core State Standards as being a key step in creating a more level playing field for all students.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807753415
  • Publisher: Teachers College Press
  • Publication date: 7/6/2012
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 707,227
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xv

1 Introduction: A Story and a Myth 1

Potential Consequences Related to Differences in Content Coverage 3

The American Myth of Educational Equality 7

The Difference that Schooling Makes 9

A Definition of Opportunity to Learn 11

The Role of Individual Responsibility in Education 14

The Need to Challenge the American Myth that Schooling Is Equal for All 15

Equality Versus Equity in Opportunities to Learn 16

The Role of OTL in Inequalities in American Education 19

Part I The Inequalities that Permeate the American Educational System

2 One Indivisible Nation? 23

The Movement Toward Common Standards 26

The Clash of Two Great Traditions 27

The Consequences of Local Control of the Curriculum 27

Content Variation in State Standards 29

Content Variation Across Local Districts 42

Science Content Variation 49

The Consequences of State and Local Control of the Curriculum 54

3 Social Class, Race, and Equality of Opportunity 56

Variability in Learning Opportunities Related to Socioeconomic Status 56

Content Opportunities in Urban Districts 64

Inequality in 8th-Grade Mathematics Among Districts 64

Expectations Versus Implementation 66

4 Into the Classroom: The Content Opportunities Children Actually Experience 68

Content Coverage in Elementary Classrooms 70

Content Coverage in Middle School Classrooms 80

Social Class Differences in Learning Opportunities 87

Content Coverage in High School Classrooms 93

Content Coverage in Science 97

Classroom Variation 98

5 Tracking: Further Along the Road to Inequality 99

Tracking in Middle School 99

Tracking in High School 107

Science Tracking in High School 118

Tracking: What We Might Do 121

6 Contributors to Inequality in Content Coverage: The Role of Organizational Structure 123

School-Level Differences 123

The Role of States, Districts, Schools, and Classrooms Related to Inequalities in Content Coverage 128

Variations in IGP Due to Different Organizational Levels of the Educational System 132

Variation for Specific Topics 138

The Role of Tracking 139

Implications Related to Inequalities in Content Coverage 140

Part II Factors that Shape Content Coverage and Increase Inequality

7 The Influence of Teachers on Opportunities to Learn 145

The Mathematics Content Knowledge that Teachers Should have 148

What Teachers Tell us About their Knowledge of Mathematics 149

Why Teachers Feel so Poorly Prepared 158

The Effects of Teachers' Mathematics Knowledge on Opportunities to Learn 162

8 The Role of Textbooks and Tests 164

Textbooks: The Potentially Implemented Curriculum 165

Mathematics Textbooks 167

The Topics Included in Science Textbooks 172

Textbook Factors that Influence the Quality of Learning Opportunities 175

Assessments and Tests 180

A Last Thought on the Influence of Textbooks and Tests 187

Part III Facing the Consequences

9 Content Coverage Matters 191

Achievement Around the World 192

Classroom-Level Analysis and U.S. Achievement 195

Relating Tracking to Achievement 200

Relating Inequalities in Content Coverage to Achievement 201

10 From Inequality to Equality: The Road We Must Follow 203

What is and What has Been 203

What Can be 212

Appendix A Data Sources Used in this Book 217

Appendix B Mathematics Content Topics 221

Appendix C Science Content Topics 222

Notes 225

References 237

Index 251

About the Authors 264

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