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Virtually all countries try to meet two goals for the outcomes of their schools: getting high levels of student achievement while minimizing systematic gaps in performance. Dealing with these issues simultaneously frequently presents challenges and policy conundrums. The United States—the subject of this discussion—has felt the weight of these issues where the historic pressures of segregated education have been heightened by a steady influx of immigrants. Moreover, these problems intersect with residential location patterns so that many of the challenges are concentrated within a relatively small number of school districts. Dealing with goals related to the level and distribution of performance can seldom be accomplished by using a single policy; in fact, it requires multiple policies.

Most countries find that the performance of students varies systematically ...

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