Opportunity for All: A Framework for Quality and Equality in Education

Drawing on decades of research, policy, and practice, Jennifer A. O’Day and Marshall S. Smith show how strategies for pursuing educational quality and equal outcomes for all students can be linked, presenting an ambitious idea of the future of American education and a comprehensive theory of change for enacting that vision. The authors argue that

Drawing on decades of research, policy, and practice, Jennifer A. O’Day and Marshall S. Smith show how strategies for pursuing educational quality and equal outcomes for all students can be linked, presenting an ambitious idea of the future of American education and a comprehensive theory of change for enacting that vision.

The authors argue that systemic causes require systemic solutions. Analyzing the failures of past efforts to address and remedy systemic inequality, O’Day and Smith maintain that our current standards-based policy framework needs to be connected to a continuous improvement approach to build on and scale up successes and to address gaps in outcomes. They emphasize the value of focusing on a small set of high-leverage issues that are particularly salient for underserved students, and they call for deeper coordination between schools and community-based organizations to mobilize a coherent response to in-school and out-of-school inequities.

The authors outline a change strategy that incorporates a balance of pressure and support from three sources: government and administrative policy, professional accountability and networking, and collective engagement of parents and other stakeholders. The authors combine discussion of research with examples of promising practices and progress in school systems across the country, and offer opportunities for readers to begin and sustain improvement efforts.