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Price of Opportunity

The National Education Policy Center’s “Price of Opportunity” project challenges policymakers, researchers and others to take seriously the foundational promise of equal and high-quality learning opportunities for all students, regardless of circumstance. It aims to shift the discourse and logics that dominate deliberations about school resources and about broader social and economic policies. We do this using two different strategies: “Great Equalizer” and “Social and Economic Policies.”

Our study will approximate one price tag for the Great Equalizer option and one price tag for the Social and Economic Policies option. The Great Equalizer approach places schools at the center of efforts to create equality in learning opportunities. We are determining the resources, and associated revenue, needed for schools to genuinely become a Great Equalizer that counter-balances larger societal inequities and gives each new generation a relatively equal chance at success.

Alternatively, the Social and Economic Policies approach seeks to create equality in society, impacting schools only indirectly. This part of the research sets aside the misguided belief that K-12 public schools alone can address society’s ills. It identifies the changes and associated revenue needed to address larger societal inequalities, tied to cyclical poverty, concentrated poverty, racism, and other forms of discrimination. Schools will (and should) always play a key role in providing learning and growth opportunities and in sustaining societal health. But a substantial body of research concludes that most of the variance in measured student outcomes is attributable to such outside-of-school inequalities.

The Price of Opportunity study requires us to break the constraints of past thinking and past methods, which have largely attended to school-focused interventions and, in particular, determinations of “adequacy.” Instead, the research will yield a set of defensible estimates of the true cost of lifting all children up.

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NEPC Resources on Price of Opportunity