Dispatches from the American Sociological Association meeting.
Stephanie Arnett, a fine young sociologist at Tulane (and a Centre graduate) reported that tracking in school increases the difference in achievement between richer and poorer kids. This is not a surprise. But she also found, in her massive 29-country comparison of school policy and students' achievement, that having a national curriculum significantly closes the gap in achievement between richer and poorer kids.
The idea of a national curriculum is so foreign to Americans that we don't even test for what it might do. We do, however, have the bases for a state curriculum in some states, such as Kentucky. We have been working in Kentucky to lift everyone's achievement on the core curriculum. We have also been working to close the gap between richer and poorer kids. Using the former as a tool to achieve the latter is a structural force I had not fully appreciated before.