Project Details

Young African American students walking and laughing.

Equal Opportunity Schools

Identifying and supporting under-represented high school students.

Project URL:
Project Twitter: @EqualOppSchools

  • Education
  • Data
  • Social Software

If education systems are designed to spot and then develop talent they do a miserably poor job. High rates of drop-out, failure and under performance, especially among students from poorer households and ethnic minorities, are testimony to the way school systems can fail those it should be lifting up. Research by Linda Darling-Hammond, Professor of Education at Stanford University, shows that in the US poorer students from minority backgrounds often fall behind because they are not exposed to more challenging and interesting opportunities to learn, and suffer from the low expectations of their teachers.

Reid Saaris saw the impact cycle of low expectations at first hand. While he was fast-tracked into advanced courses that would prepare him for college at Duke and Harvard, his best friend from a low-income background was put into lower-stream classes and spent the next decade-and-a-half making up for the lost opportunity.

When Saaris himself became a teacher he was determined to do better: in his first few years he increased the success rate of African-American students in advanced classes by 20%. Equal Opportunity Schools (EOS) aims to take some of the lessons Saaris learned to scale.

EOS uses sophisticated data mining techniques to identify students who would benefit from moving into advanced classes which are more interesting and challenging. That helps keep them motivated and improves their results, quite dramatically.

Research suggests that each year more than 600,000 low-income students in the US miss out on the opportunity to be placed in advanced classes that could provide the training they need to succeed at college. The EOS approach will enable an additional 6,000 students with potential to be identified and moved into advanced and International Baccalaureate classes each year.

EOS partners with school, district, county and state leaders around the country, identifying thousands of “missing students” and developing systems to ensure these capable students are enrolling and succeeding in the high school classes that will best prepare them to achieve their college goals. EOC works with a vast database of all students on AP and IB programmes to create ways to pinpoint high-potential students who are being overlooked.

Image © Can Stock Photo Inc./michaeljung

Last updated: 09th of May, 2014

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