“Equality of Educational Opportunity,” the so-called “Coleman report,” first introduced America to this gap 50 years ago.
As part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the study was commissioned by the U.S. Office of Education to examine educational inequality in the United States, including differences between schools attended by white and black students.
James S. Coleman and his team collected data from 4,000 schools, 66,000 teachers, and more than half a million elementary, middle and high school students.
The 749-page report found large achievement gaps separating black and white students. It also found that family background explained most of the gap in achievement.
It stated: “One implication stands out above all: That schools bring little influence to bear on a child’s achievement that is independent of his background and general social context; and that this very lack of an independent effect means that the inequalities imposed on children by their home, neighborhood, and peer environment are carried along to become the inequalities with which they confront adult life at the end of school.”
James S. Coleman, Equality of Educational Opportunity (1966)
Education Next, Revisiting the Coleman Report, “Equality of Educational Opportunity” on its 50th Anniversary (January 5, 2016)Heather C. Hill, Chalkbeat, 50 years ago, one report introduced Americans to the black-white achievement gap. Here’s what we’ve learned since. (July 13, 2016) Lauren Camera, U.S. News, Achievement Gap Between White and Black Students Still Gaping (January 13, 2016)