How successful school systems are closing achievement gaps: An interview with Greg Duncan, Professor, University of California, Irvine – Episode #47

At a time of growing income inequality, how can our schools significantly improve the life chances of low-income children? To explore that question, we’re joined by Greg Duncan. He’s a Distinguished Professor in the School of Education at the University of California, Irvine, and one the nation’s leading experts on issues of child and youth development. He is the author, with Richard Murnane of Harvard, of the new book Restoring Opportunity: The Crisis of Inequality and the Challenge for American Education. The book highlights the growing inequality in America between the educational haves and have-nots and also argues that evidence-based, targeted interventions in education can significantly level the playing field between low-income children and their more financially well-off peers.

Our interview begins by examining some of the key trends in educational achievement since the 1970s. We then discuss commonalities among the book’s three case studies of successful educational initiatives that are raising the achievement levels of students from disadvantage backgrounds. And finally, we look more closely at one case study: The University of Chicago Charter School Network.