​Perceived Student Disadvantage Affects Educational Opportunities

A BIG MISUNDERSTANDING: Debates over the student achievement gap often involve discussions about socioeconomic inequality; after all, it’s reasonable to assume that those with more wealth at hand have greater access to educational materials and resources. But a report from the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) finds that the “actual disadvantage and principal’s perception of disadvantage don’t always align.” In a blog post summarizing these findings, the OECD says:

"65% of principals in the United States say that more than 30% of their students are from disadvantaged homes, far more than in any other country. However, the actual percentage of disadvantaged students reported by PISA is just 13%, marginally higher than in Japan and Korea; but in those two countries, only 6% and 9% of principals, respectively, report a comparable share of disadvantaged students in their schools.”

The disparity between perceived and real disadvantage makes a difference: When educators believe their students are socioeconomically disadvantaged, it affects educational opportunity for those students, regardless of their real background. 

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