This article examines disparities based upon poverty and race/ethnicity. After framing the issues by looking at national, state, and local data, it illustrates ways that social scientists can be involved in shaping educational practices and policies, focusing on the types of skills that are useful and on ways of thinking about the types of collaboration that are needed. Skills discussed are methodological as well as substantive; both types draw from existing knowledge bases. For collaboration the model described is that of action research. Approaches are illustrated through personal examples drawn from collaborations with urban public schools. They include defining expected growth for students at different achievement levels, school accountability issues, and setting up long-term collaboration.