At Issue (Racial and Ethnic Relations in America)
The Equality of Educational Opportunity study, known as the Coleman Report, was released in 1966. This study, conducted by James S. Coleman, focused on the effect that school desegregation had on the academic attainment of black and white students. After controlling for students’ family background characteristics, the report concluded that the strongest influence on the individual achievement of both black and white students was the educational proficiency of their peers. In upper grades, this influence was found to be two to three times greater for black students than for white students.
Increased diversity in the racial composition of schools was also found to have a positive effect on the achievement of African American students, decreasing the achievement gap between African American students and white students by nearly half, despite findings of lower self-esteem among African American students in racially diverse classrooms than among racially isolated African American students. For white students, increased racial diversity in the classroom, especially during the first three grades, was found to decrease their preference for white peers. Data provided by the Coleman Report were analyzed in 1967 by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and again in the 1969 McPartland study to provide a more comprehensive analysis of the effects of desegregation.