The Coleman Report (formally named Equality of Educational Opportunity) is one of the most influential works in the sociology of education. The findings of this report informed public perception, changed educational policy, and continue to shape research on education. The U.S. Department of Education commissioned James Coleman (1914–91), a sociologist of education, and several other scholars to conduct this study to fulfill a provision of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. They were asked to determine whether children of different races, colors, religions, and national origins experience equal educational opportunity in America. The study, of unprecedented scale for the time, employed quantitative data on 645,000 students in 4,000 public schools.

One of the more controversial findings of the report was that differences in family background contribute much ...

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