Improving Educational Equity
Pioneering American educator Horace Mann called education “the great equalizer of the conditions of men.” But is it?
Time spent in school certainly equalizes children’s exposure to learning resources and opportunities. But Dr. Scott Davies, Canada Research Chair in Data, Equity and Policy in Education, has found that aspects of children’s lives outside of school—such as their socioeconomic status—give them widely varying exposures to learning opportunities and resources, particularly during the summer months. This discrepancy can leave some children at a distinct disadvantage compared with their peers, despite their equal access to resources during the school year.
Davies plans to untangle the effects of schools on learning from the effects of other influences. He will follow children’s achievements from their early preschool years into their secondary years to collect data that will help answer several core research questions: Do early abilities predict secondary achievement? What are typical student trajectories—and are they affected by disability, language, immigration, gender, Aboriginal status, or other social categories?
Collecting and organizing this data will be invaluable in establishing a baseline that Davies and his research team can use to assess whether early interventions—such as summer programs aimed at reducing the achievement gap—can alter students’ typical trajectories.
Ultimately, Davies’ research may influence policy in educational equity.