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It has been less than a week and I have already run into obstacles in my research on college access.  Much of the literature on college access or early identification programs was either published in the early 1990’s or does not have much usable information.  What I mean by “usable information” is that many of the papers written are about why more research is needed, and do not actually pursue the research they feel is missing.  There is no practical application of the methods researched mentioned in much of the literature.

Frustrated with reading academic papers, I turned to the US Department of Education.  I stumbled upon the National Center for Education Statistics. Their website has the Digest of Education Statistics: this includes records of ACT averages, educational attainment and success, workforce participation; if there is a statistic related to education, they have it.  As I was going through many of the charts, I noticed that the statistics are primarily broken down by gender or race. Through these two groups are important to identify and measure, there is little mention of socioeconomic status as a contributing factor to the level of success in education and the workforce.  It is an unfortunate fact that race and socioeconomic do correlate in the United States.  However, this does not mean that an individual’s race/ethnicity causes lower or higher socioeconomic standing.

Are we as the readers of these statistics supposed to assume that a certain race evokes a certain socioeconomic status?  I feel that by identifying race instead of socioeconomic status hinders progress in the United States educational system.  It isolates groups of students based of a trait that cannot and should not change.  Socioeconomic status can be improved.

I believe it is time to take a hard look at how we measure students in the United States. If we continue to view success through factors such as race, then there will be no progress. At the core, race or gender should not determine someone’s success. We are all human.

As I continue my research, I hope to focus on this misguided measurement of youth in the United States.

As a final note, this story aired on marketplace today, May 27th 2013. In the article, they discuss problems facing the education system related to my post:

http://www.marketplace.org/topics/economy/jobs-youth-today-spares-economic-burden-tomorrow

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