Reflection: The Coleman Report

The Coleman report was an effort to study how a poorer economic status affected students’ educational opportunities in 1966. James S. Coleman was in charge of this endeavor and led a research group in this study; their findings were complied in the Coleman Report. In my review of the Coleman Report, I found that the importance which was placed on having quality teachers to be quite encouraging. Coleman (1966) states, “The quality of teachers shows a stronger relationship to pupil achievement” (p. 1).  I know that this could seem obvious, but it is a factor that I feel every teacher asks when in a low moment. Am I making a difference? Good teachers care deeply about their students and hope that their instruction is helping students succeed in education. When students have lost motivation and it seems that nothing is getting through to them, it is good for teachers to remind themselves that their instruction makes a great deal of difference.

I was also very interested to see that a majority of Coleman’s findings were based on students’ attitudes rather than access to resources (or lack there of). Coleman (1966) explains the “pupil attitude factor” by stating that it, “…appears to have a stronger relationship to achievement than do all the “school” factors together…” (p. 2). This is an important concept that we should take away from this report because it reminds teachers that the students’ perception of the world around them is a huge factor in their learning. Even though each student absorbs the attitudes of their social groups, teachers can use their influence to speak truth into students’ lives.

I don’t think that the Coleman Report hindered educational reform because it brought up important questions that educators needed to think about. Urban and Wagoner (2009) explained “Although the Coleman Report offered no definitive answer to the problem it addressed, underachievement of poor students, its greatest contribution was to bring into mainstream social scientific inquiry the question of the links among economic class, race, and school achievement” (p. 360). This report was not a catalyst for educational reform but it did open the doors for educators to see important factors that affect student learning and achievement that they might not have otherwise considered.