Teachers College Press

Inequality for All
The Challenge of Unequal Opportunity in American Schools

William Schmidt and Curtis McKnight
Pub Date: July 2012, 288 pages

Paperback: $34.95, ISBN: 0807753416
Cloth: $78.00, ISBN: 0807753424
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“If you have any reservations on why the U.S. needs Common Core Standards you need to read this excellent book. Studying elementary schools in the U.S. and abroad, results show significant differences in students’ opportunities to learn mathematics. A rare combination of statistically rigorous work yet easy to read, policymakers, teachers, and parents will be surprised to find how varied instruction and curricular content in mathematics is and the consequences it is having on children’s learning across all economic and social groups, including the middle class.”
Barbara Schneider, Hannah Chair, Michigan State University

“I applaud the authors for making a strong case for the Common Core Mathematics Standards from the perspective of leveling the field of learning for children. Let us hope that they will also bring their formidable scholarship to bear on the next step: how to ensure a basic uniformity in teacher quality.”
Hung-Hsi Wu, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics, University of California at Berkeley

“This book presents an engaging and compelling argument about the dismal state of mathematics education in the US, illuminating how the nuts and bolts of kids’ opportunities to learn in school—curriculum content coverage—have implications for democratic principles of liberty and justice. It provides important lessons on improving US mathematics lessons.”
James P. Spillane, Spencer T. & Ann W. Olin Professor in Learning & Organizational Change, Northwestern University

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.

1. Introduction: A Story and A Myth
Part I: The Inequalities that Permeate the American Educational System
2. One Indivisible Nation?
3. Social Class, Race, and Equality of Opportunity
4. Into the Classroom: The Content Opportunities Children Actually Experience
5. Tracking: Further Along the Road to Inequality
6. Contributors to Inequality in Content Coverage: The Role of Organizational Structure
Part II: Factors that Shape Content Coverage and Increase Inequality
7. The Influence of Teachers on Opportunities to Learn
8. The Role of Textbooks and Tests
Part III: Facing the Consequences
9. Content Coverage Matters
10. From Inequality to Equality: The Road We Must Follow
Appendix A: Data Sources Used in This Book
Appendix B: Mathematics Content Topics
Appendix C: Science Content Topics

William H. Schmidt is University Distinguished Professor at Michigan State University and co-director of the Education Policy Center. Curtis C. McKnight is emeritus professor of mathematics at the University of Oklahoma.

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