Daniel Koretz on Race and Education

Daniel Koretz is the Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education.  He focuses his research primarily on educational assessment, particularly as a tool of education policy. A primary emphasis in his work has been the effects of high-stakes testing, including effects on schooling and the validity of score gains. His research has included studies of the effects of testing programs, the assessment of students with disabilities, international differences in the variability of student achievement, the application of value-added models to educational achievement, and the development of methods for validating scores under high-stakes conditions. His current work focuses on the design and evaluation of test-focused educational accountability systems. Dr. Koretz founded and chairs the International Project for the Study of Educational Accountability, an international network of scholars investigating improved approaches to educational accountability. Dr. Koretz is a member of the National Academy of Education. His doctorate is in developmental psychology from Cornell University. Before obtaining his degree, Dr. Koretz taught emotionally disturbed students in public elementary and junior high schools.

  • Transcript


Daniel Koretz:

[Brown] clearly was not sufficient.  There’s a real confound between social class and race in this country.  And so, it’s very hard to look at schools that are inadequate schools serving disadvantaged kids and say, “Well, are we talking about a class difference or are we talking about a racial difference or an [ethnic] difference?”  Because in the [positive] world, we tend to act as though African-American kids are one group and Hispanic kids are one group.  They’re not.  There’s no… There’re tremendous differences, say, between Cuban American kids in Florida and Puerto Rican American kids in Illinois or between [Haitian] kids in Florida and native-born African-American kids in Chicago.  All we know, really, is that many minority kids and many poor kids, which are two partially overlapping groups, are not doing as well as we want, as they should and at some portion of those half, really mediocre schools.  I don’t think we can solve this problem even with the necessary improvements in schooling.  We need improvements in schooling.  But we have data, for example, that shows very strong social class differences and parental behavior.  This research started in the 1970s, it became politically incorrect and sort of died out for a while but it’s come back.  There’s just no doubt now that there’re differences.  For class differences, for example, in the kinds of linguistic environments that parents provide for kids.  Now, you can’t over generalize.  There’re plenty of poor parents who provide their kids with very rich environments and plenty of well-off parents who don’t.  But, on average, when people have gone and [then] watch linguistic interaction in homes and studied language acquisition, in other words, you’d see that there are real differences in the enrichment that’s offered at home.