Mission

Equal Opportunity Schools’ mission is to ensure that all students have the opportunity to succeed in challenging high school courses.

In pursuit of our mission, we focus on the “tragedy of twenty feet” – each year two-thirds of a
million students are stuck literally just across the hall from advanced high school classes they are
ready to succeed in, classes which they will need in order to achieve their college completion goals.

Some of the thinking behind our mission:

  • Although “challenging high school courses” and “advanced classes” can be defined in many ways, we focus on the Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs, which provide the clearest measurable standard aligned with college-level work. Further, reasonably strong research posits a causal link between these courses and college completion.
  • The issue of access to challenging high school coursework affects students from all backgrounds; however, low-income, Latino and black students access AP and IB courses at the lowest rates. This “enrollment gap” in advanced courses has been around for a long time – but educators around the country are finding ways to fully close that gap. By focusing on removing barriers for traditionally under-represented students, these school leaders make outsized gains in access to challenging courses, college readiness, and the achievement gap.
  • Our focus on closing race and income AP/IB access gaps offers among the highest impact per dollar toward the goals of boosting college and career readiness and closing the achievement gap. AP and IB programs exist in most U.S. high schools at a level of quality high enough to make those existing programs an extremely powerful existing lever for change that doesn’t require big outlays of capital, the overhauling of legal systems and labor arrangements, or an upending of very sticky and long-standing schooling practices. Specifically, with this focus on AP/IB access gaps, we believe that each $2K we spend can create a new college graduate.
  • Very specific data and analysis can cut through generalizations about what is possible for our students and our schools, and often uncovers unexpected student and school strength upon which momentum for progress can be built. For this reason, we have analyzed detailed data on every AP and IB student and school in the US, and we are deeply committed to highly school- and student-specific contextualization, and to continuously measuring and improving our impact.

We share the belief that we need to act quickly. Every year hundreds of thousands of low-income students and black and Latino students are stuck in AP and IB enrollment gaps across the country, often reporting that they are unchallenged by their high school classes and therefore disengaged and headed for high school or college non-completion. We believe that, together, we can reach all of these students and fully close race and income AP/IB access gaps within a decade.