#2015APPAM Student Summary: Spencer Foundation Award Lecture and Breakfast
By Michelle Lee, PhD Candidate
Indiana University, School of Public and Environmental Affairs
The Spencer Foundation Award Lecture and Breakfast was Friday morning to recognize the contributions of Dr. Sean Reardon to the field of education policy, social policy and educational inequality research. Dr. Reardon is the endowed Professor of Poverty and Inequality in Education and also a Professor of Sociology at Stanford University. He is also a recipient of a William T. Grant Foundation Scholar Award, a Carnegie Scholar Award and a National Academy of Education Postdoctoral Fellowship.
Dr. Reardon was described during his introduction as “an important leader of his generation and the field of education research because of the way he combines disciplinary knowledge and analytical and data management tools…[that can be] put to the service of understanding deeply important problem, particularly inequality.”
Upon receiving his award, Dr. Reardon provided a presentation entitled Public Policy and Educational Inequality, sharing with the audience his insights on two competing narratives of school being both an equalizing force and as being deeply unequal. He questioned if schools are part of the problem or the solution; where the significant differences lie—in communities, opportunities, resources and outcomes; and how much should policies aimed at reducing inequalities in educational outcomes should focus on schools versus broader social goals.
Dr. Reardon informed the audience that this Spring, his group will be releasing data that comprises of over 200 million test scores across a panel of 4 years at a fine level of granularity. The hope is that this will motivate other researchers to engage in this research and think about these social inequality challenges. He also mentioned that Russel Sage Grants and William T. Grants would be made available to support future research.