Inequality of empirical research focused on the role
Inequality of educational outcomes among racial and ethnic groups is one of the most pressing issues within the American educational system. Equality of Educational Opportunity (1966) by Coleman and his colleagues initiated a substantial body of empirical research focused on the role of school and student background factors in explaining the gap in achievement between White and non- White students (Jencks & Phillips, 1998). The achievement gap between White and non-White students is well documented, persistent, and does not appear to be vanishing. The National Association of Education Progress (NAEP) data, the nation’s report card on students’ knowledge in key academic areas, reveal that during the 1 970s and 1 980s, Black, Hispanic, and Native American students attained increased achievement levels as the race gap in achievement began to decrease (U.S. Department of Education, 2000). However, Black, Hispanic and Native American student performance on the NAEP reading tests declined between 1988 and 1992 and has since leveled off, revealing no narrowing of the achievement gap among the races (U.S. Department of Education, 2000, Harris & Harrington 2006).One factor that has historically contributed to the inequality of racial and ethnic groups is racial segregation. Early desegregation research (up to the mid 1 980s) reported that the achievement of Black children was higher in desegregated schools than in segregated schools (Mahard & Crain, 1983; Prager, Longshore, & Seaman, 1986; Wortman & Bryant, 1985) and the positive effect of desegregation on the mathematics and reading achievement of Black students did not decrease White students’ achievement (Krol, 1 984). However, more recent research reveals that both White and Black students in high minority schools show lower academic performance than those in schools with lower concentrations of Black students (Bankston & Caldas, 1996; Goldsmith, 2004; Roscigno, 1998).Although, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education (1954) school desegregation ruling documented that separate facilities were not equal, segregation continues within American schools to levels that are greater than the segregation levels of the early 1960s (Orfield, 1996, 2001). In 1954, only 10% of public school students were minority group members (Orfield & Yun 1999). This 10% was typically in segregated (minority only) school systems with limited integration as the country was highly racially segregated during this time. In 1964, only 0.48% of Black elementary and secondary school students in the South (excluding Texas and Tennessee) attended schools with Whites; by the 1 966-67 school year, 16.9% of Black children in the South attended integrated elementary and secondary schools (Joondeph, 1 996). This change was brought about when Congress passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), which made billions of dollars available to public school districts. It was possible to use this money for desegregation efforts. Segregation success was revealed in 1968, when 77% of Black students were in racially segregated schools.