In most states inequities in the Opportunity to Learn are best illustrated by the difference between the opportunities available to male Black and male White, non-Latino students. Alabama’s graduation rate for male Black students is 43%; for male White students 63%; a difference of 20%. For more information, see the Schott Foundation for Public Education's report, Given Half a Chance.
In Lost Opportunity: A 50 State Report on the Opportunity to Learn in America, the Schott Foundation for Public Education establishes a metric for determining the opportunity to learn for students. Providing a state-by-state comparison of both academic proficiency (percentage of students scoring at or above proficient on the eighth grade NAEP reading exam) and equity (as measured by the Schott Foundation’s Opportunity to Learn Index, or OTLI), Lost Opportunity identifies the four baseline minimum resources that are necessary for a child – regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status – to have a fair and substantive Opportunity to Learn.
In the United States, every student should have the equal right to a high-quality education. But as our most recent data demonstrates, for far too many students, quality and equity are aspirations, not realities. Few states are providing public school educations that result in academic proficiency for students. And even fewer states are providing access to a high-quality education to all students, particularly those from historically disadvantaged groups.
The Opportunity to Learn Campaigns’s federal policy recommendations focus needed attention on the specific solutions that ensure all students – particularly those from historically disadvantaged groups – are provided a fair and substantive opportunity to learn through access to high-quality learning opportunities. The central federal policy recommendation calls for developing and monitoring a set of research-based, resource equity standards.
While many organizations have worked effectively at the state level to support research and advocacy efforts to guarantee that all children have the resources they need for an equitable opportunity to learn, the Opportunity to Learn Campaign recognizes that state remedies have not been sufficient to address the deep inequities in educational opportunity found both within and across states. A larger federal role is needed to ensure that all students have a fair and substantive opportunity to learn.