Race, poverty, and the student curriculum: Implications for standards policy

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The purpose of this article is to examine the links between the minority and poverty status of public secondary schools and course-taking patterns within those schools. This analysis looks at the 1984 Regents Action Plan in New York State to explore the role of standards-based policies in altering the connections between schooling context and curriculums. The findings show that, on average, schools increased student participation in traditional and advanced courses in the six years immediately following the plan, in comparison with the four years preceding it. It is significant to note that in the ten-year period studied (1980-1990) the links between course-taking patterns and the minority antipoverty status of schools persisted in big city school districts but were somewhat weaker for schools in the rest of New York State. However, school size plays an increasingly important role for schools in all locations. The magnitude of the associations between size and course-taking patterns increased in the years after standards-based reform, suggesting that standards are not a cure-all for the ills of high schools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)675-693
Number of pages19
JournalAmerican Educational Research Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002


  • Course-taking
  • Curriculum standards
  • Education policy
  • Equity


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