An ambitious, important new piece of analysis by scholars Eric Hanushek (an economist) and Paul Peterson (a political scientist), plus Laura Talpey and Ludger Woessmann, concludes that “gaps in achievement between the haves and have-nots are mostly unchanged over the past half century” and that “steady gains in student achievement at the eighth grade level have not translated into gains at the end of high school.”

In other words, young Americans across the socioeconomic spectrum have made some progress over the past half-century in academic achievement, but that rising tide (a) hasn’t narrowed key gaps among them and (b) hasn’t lifted the high school boats. By and large, this starts from the glum but largely unchallenged conclusion of the 1966 Coleman Report that differences

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