Opening the Doors to Opportunity for All: Setting a Research Agenda for the Future

In 2014, the Equity Project at AIR hosted its first Research Roundtable. There, some of the nation’s top educational researchers drafted a research agenda addressing some of the long-term challenges facing American public schools educating students from low-income and minority families. Leaving micro-reforms to others, we asked tough questions that researchers could answer for those working to make public education as the gateway to opportunity for all.

What research priorities emerged?  They ranged from finding new ways to measure civic engagement to studying districts that are models of equity and access to opportunity. From this abundance of research ideas, six key research principles emerged: 

  • Promote diversity within the context of common high standards.
  • Deepen public understanding that there is clear evidence that education dramatically improves the life prospects of the poor, near poor, and the working poor.
  • Get the word out that student engagement and opportunities to learn are the right of all students.
  • Frankly acknowledge the power of social structure when proposing new avenues for equity research.
  • Make it clear to all that the social safety net is not about charity; it is about building an educational system and economy that provides opportunity for everyone.
  • Ensure that the research showing that college-going high school cultures raise the aspirations of low-income and minority students informs educational policy-making.

The essays in this Select Series collection reflect some of the voices at the Roundtable. The Select Series is primarily intended for researchers, policymakers, and educators. Each volume of the Select Series will feature authors who participated in an Equity Project Roundtable. Although there is a general theme for each volume, authors are encouraged to write about what they care most and channel their words from the depths of their own research and thinking.