The Director’s Award for Research in Education Equity: Finalist Presentations

The CIEP Education Equity Initiative exists to evaluate and promote empirical research on closing America’s educational achievement gaps. On October 23, the Initiative is sponsoring a prize in recognition of the most outstanding contribution to research on education equity by an up-and-coming scholar. Our public forum provides an opportunity for the selected finalists to explore questions related to math policies, student-teacher relationships, community and parent engagement, and social and cultural capital.

The CUNY Institute for Education Policy at Roosevelt House

If Not Now, Then When?: A Discrete-Time Survival Analysis of When Students First Take Algebra I and Beyond in an Urban District
By Erica Litke (Harvard University),  Darryl V. Hill (Wake County Public Schools System), Shaun M. Dougherty (University of Connecticut), Joshua Goodman (Harvard University), and Lindsay Page (University of Pittsburgh)

In this paper, I investigate course-taking trajectories for students not eligible for early acceleration into Algebra 1 under a targeted enrollment policy in Wake County, North Carolina. Using longitudinal student-level administrative data, I investigate whether and when these students enroll in Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra 2 and whether there are differences in timing of course enrollment that are correlated with student demographic characteristics.

Ethnic Culture and Schools: The Role of Student-Teacher Relationships
By Megan N. Shoji (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Education scholars and practitioners have long pointed to ethnic culture as a possible explanation for Black-White achievement gaps. This paper explores two potential mechanisms through which ethnic culture impacts student achievement. One hypothesis, which has dominated past research, is that being academically successful is antithetical to being authentically Black. Black students tend to do poorly, the argument goes, because Black youth culture discourages achievement-oriented attitudes and behaviors. An equally plausible but less prominent hypothesis is that student expressions of Blackness cause teachers to view Black students less favorably and to withdraw from engagement opportunities. The paper findings highlight the importance of student-teacher relationships for understanding how ethnic culture becomes a source of inequality in schools.

⇓Click Here to view Megan’s presentation in PDF.

Drawing Lines to Connect the Dots: How Revising Public School Boundaries Activated Civic Capacity for Education Equity in Washington, D.C.
By Esa Syeed (New York University)

For the first time since 1968, local education agencies in Washington, D.C. embarked on a process to engage communities as part of a comprehensive revision of the city’s student assignment and school boundaries policies this past year. Rather than evaluate the merits of particular boundary proposals, I focus more intently on the actual policy-making process itself and the inherent complexities in how communities negotiate delivering equal education opportunity to all in a changing city. Using extensive qualitative data, I take the D.C. experience as a case that represents the alternative possibilities for education reform when policy is both considered within its broader social context and derived through a more deliberative and inclusive process.

Do Family Engagement Programs Reproduce Social Capital Inequality in Low Income, Hispanic Elementary Schools?
By Alyn T. McCarty (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Education scholars argue that school-based parent networks rich in social capital may be an important policy lever for promoting educational opportunities for low-income Hispanic children. Family engagement programs aim to establish strong parent networks; however, it is unclear whether all families benefit equally from these efforts. Programs may create opportunities among the most socially isolated families by increasing their social capital; alternatively, they may strengthen existing connections among families with more social capital, exacerbating existing inequalities. I address these questions by examining variation in the effect Families and Schools Together (FAST), a family engagement program that generates school-based parent social capital. The findings reveal a complex, if not paradoxical pattern: I find that FAST builds social capital more for families that are initially more socially isolated than for families that are initially more connected, but also the effect is more pronounced in schools where parent networks are initially stronger than in schools where parent networks are initially weaker.

⇓Click here to view Alyn’s presentation in power point.

Unequal Childhoods? The Complex Logics of Childrearing in Latino Families
By David E. Rangel (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and Megan N. Shoji  (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

A consistent body of research has examined child-rearing as a mechanism for the intergenerational transmission of class-based advantages. However, Latinos have not been a main focus of this work despite comprising the largest and fastest growing ethnic minority group in the United States. Drawing on in-depth interviews, we explore class patterns in child-rearing practices among Mexican-origin parents of second- and third-graders. Rather than the stark class differences found in previous work, we observed substantial similarities across class lines in parent reports of their interactions with their children and schools. We offer two explanations: (1) Social mobility experienced by middle-class parents in our sample complicates the logic of child-rearing, which is responsive both to parents’ current class location and their class of origin. (2) Among working-class/poor families, distinctive parenting practices may reflect constraints on material and non-material resources rather than class-based differences in the cultural logic of child-rearing.

⇓Click here to view David’s presentation in power point.

with featured respondents

Dr. James Kemple

Executive Director, Research Alliance for NYC Schools 

Research Professor, NYU Steinhardt


Dr. Hua-Yu Sebastian Cherng

Assistant Professor, NYU Steinhardt

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