December 4, 2019

December 2019 Research Rundown

By Krista Kaput

Welcome to EdAllies’ December Research Rundown: our curated list of recent, relevant research we think is worth adding to the education equity conversation. As we close out 2019, we’re sharing research on:

  • Black and Latino student representation amongst undergraduates and degree earners; 
  • Automatic enrollment policies; and 
  • Public opinions on school choice. 
Broken Mirrors 

The Education Trust, March and September 2019 

In their Broken Mirrors series, The Education Trust examined black and Latino student representation amongst undergraduates and degree earners. Overall, they found that public institutions in too many states are falling short of their obligation to help these students enroll and complete college. 

They found that only three states had an equitable share of black bachelor’s degree earners compared to the state’s demographics and that black students are also underrepresented amongst associate degree earners in more than 30 states. Moreover, in every state they studied, Latino students are underrepresented at both the associate and bachelor’s level. They also found disparities in access to selective public colleges and universities.


In 2015, the Minnesota legislature passed a law setting a statewide target that 70% of Minnesota adults ages 25-44 will have attained a postsecondary certificate or degree by 2025.  The Education Trust’s State Equity Report Card ranked Minnesota 23 out of 41 states for the percentage of black adults who have a college degree. However, when measuring the difference in degree attainment between black and white adults, Minnesota ranks 40 out of 41. For Latino adults, Minnesota ranks 17 out of 44 in the percentage of Latino adults who have a college degree, and 37 out of 44 for the degree attainment gap between Latino and white adults. As we work to reach our state’s attainment goal, it’s important to have a comprehensive understanding of the gaps so that we can equitably distribute resources and provide targeted support. 
Read the full report

One Course, Many Outcomes: A Multi-Site Regression Discontinuity Analysis of Early Algebra Across California Middle Schools 

Annenberg Institute at Brown University, November 2019 

Automatic enrollment policies, where students who demonstrate proficiency are automatically placed in the most rigorous course available the following year, are gaining in popularity as a way to ensure all students—not just those hand-picked for the opportunity—have access to engaging, high-level coursework. This analysis looked at outcomes for over 500 public middle schools in California that use a 7th-grade achievement threshold to place students in 8th-grade Algebra. They found that enrolling students in 8th-grade Algebra boosts their chances of taking advanced math courses by 30 percentage points in 9th grade and 16 percentage points in 11th grade. Importantly, women, students of color, and English learners disproportionately benefited from access to the accelerated coursework. The study also found that implementation of the policy matters. In particular, they found that the benefits of 8th grade Algebra were much larger in schools that automatically enrolled students who were at least “Proficient” on the 7th grade statewide, standardized math assessment, as compared to those that did not. 


A recent report on rigorous coursework from the Minnesota Department of Education illustrates large disparities in Advanced Placement participation and exam passage rate between students of color and white students. For the class of 2018, only 19% of black, 14% of Native American, and 18% of Latino students took an AP course, as compared to 34% of white students. To tackle disparities in rigorous coursework, four states—Colorado, Nevada, and North Carolina, and Washingtonhave passed automatic enrollment policies, which are meant to ensure that students with qualifying test scores in a particular subject are automatically enrolled in advanced coursework in the same subject area. In North Carolina, as many as 10,000 students had access to advanced math courses that they would not otherwise have had access to. Similarly, in Washington, enrollment in advanced courses tripled for historically underserved students in the state’s fourth-largest school district. Districts should examine their rigorous coursework data and consider adopting an automatic enrollment policy, and state policymakers should do the same. 
Read the full report

2019 Education Next Poll 

Education Next, August 2019 

Education Next’s annual poll, administered in May 2019, gathered responses from a sample of 3,046 respondents as well as more detailed samples of teachers, black, and Latino adults. While their poll found an overall increase of public support for charter schools, there was a divide along the lines of race and ethnicity lines among Democrats. The poll found that large pluralities of black and Latino Democrats support targeted vouchers, universal vouchers, and charter schools, with lower support among white Democrats. These results align with findings from other recent polls


Just under 7% of Minnesota students attend a charter school. Many are designed specifically to meet the needs of historically underserved students, and as a result, charters serve larger proportions of low-income students (54%), English learners (20%), and students of color (60%) than the statewide averages. Despite the fact that parents are seeking out high-quality school options–and that charters are providing opportunity for students who have been historically underserved–DFL Rep. John Lesch recently announced that he is currently drafting a charter moratorium bill. The role of charters and choice is a growing conversation both locally and nationally. For local stories and perspectives, visit EdAllies’ Real Voice. Real Choice website, and listen to this recent 8 Black Hands podcast, recorded live in Minneapolis.
Read the full report

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