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2007 Educational Opportunity Report

The Racial Opportunity Gap

John Rogers, Jeannie Oakes, Sophie Fanelli, David Medina, Siomara Valladares, Veronica Terriquez

November 2007

State Report 2007 CoverIn August 2007, California's Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell called for greater public attention to the racial achievement gap in education. Highlighting evidence that white and Asian students in California consistently outperform their African American and Latino peers, O'Connell urged a statewide focus on eliminating this gap. Some commentators responded to O'Connell's statement by arguing that the persistent racial gap in achievement scores is a product of cultural differences that must be addressed if the gap is to be closed. This cultural argument suggests that the problem of low test scores resides within the African American and Latino communities; it fails to account for the fact that California students generally have lower test scores than students across the nation. Notably, white students in California also perform well below white students in almost all other states.

In response to O'Connell's call, the 2007 Educational Opportunity Report examined California's poor and unequal educational achievement in light of the conditions in California's public schools.

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