It’s Not Education by Zip Code Anymore – But What is It? Conceptions of Equity under the Common Core

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Abstract

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a standards-based reform in which 45 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have agreed to participate. The reform seeks to anchor primary and secondary education across these states in one set of demanding, internationally-benchmarked standards. Thereby, all students will be prepared for further learning and work in a competitive global economy regardless of the sociodemographic variation associated with their “zip code,” that is, the location of their neighborhood or school. This article examines the role and meaning of equity within the Common Core at a level beyond “zip code.” It does so using data from interviews with Common Core policy entrepreneurs and qualitative analysis of interview data. Findings are considered against a conceptual framework of equal, equalizing, and expansive views of equity. The findings indicate that policy entrepreneurs hold primarily an equal view of equity, in accord with meritocratic and functional purposes of schooling, more so than equalizing or expansive views. The latter views emphasize compensatory purposes that focus on narrowing achievement gaps. From this analysis, we identify the paradox of equity in education policy: The successful launch of a policy that relies on existing paradigms of standards-based reform and an equal conception of equity helps tether educational outcomes to student background. 

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How to Cite
Kornhaber, M. L., Griffith, K., & Tyler, A. (2014). It’s Not Education by Zip Code Anymore – But What is It? Conceptions of Equity under the Common Core. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 22, 4. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v22n4.2014
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Author Biographies

Mindy Laura Kornhaber, The Pennsylvania State University

Mindy L. Kornhaber is an Associate Professor in the Department of Education Policy Studies at Penn State University.  Her research is guided by two questions: How do institutions and the policies surrounding them enhance or impede human development, and how can human development be advanced on a more equitable basis?

Kelly Griffith, The Pennsylvania State University

Kelly Griffith is a doctoral candidate in the Education Theory and Policy Program at Penn State University.  Her research centers on issues of educational equity in the K-16 pipeline and the policies that seek to address access to college preparatory experiences within and across high schools.

Alison Tyler, The Pennsylvania State University

Alison C. Tyler is a doctoral candidate in the Education Theory and Policy Program at Penn State University.  Her research focuses on issues of educational equity, including segregation, as well as the symbolic import of policy.