Featured books by Karl Alexander

Children, Schools, and Inequality

By: Karl Alexander, Doris Entwisle, Linda Olson
Age Level: Adult
Reading Level: Professional

Children, Schools, and Inequality examines elementary school outcomes in light of the socioeconomic variation in schools and neighborhoods, the organizational patterns across elementary schools, and the ways in which family structure intersects with children’s school performance. Adding data from the Baltimore Beginning School Study to information culled from the fields of sociology, child development, and education, this book suggests why the gap between the school achievement of poor children and those who are better off has been so difficult to close. The authors show why the first-grade transition — how children negotiate entry into full-time schooling — is a crucial period. This book can inform educators, practitioners, and policymakers, as well as researchers in the sociology of education and child development.

On the Success of Failure: A Reassessment of the Effects of Retention in the Primary School Grades

By: Karl Alexander, Doris Entwisle, Susan Dauber
Age Level: Adult
Reading Level: Professional

This study is about a particularly vexing problem in urban school systems – grade retention in elementary schools. The book describes the school context of retention and evaluates its consequences by tracking the experiences of a large, representative sample of Baltimore school children from first grade through high school. It addresses the complex question of whether repeating a grade is helpful or harmful when children are not keeping up with their coursework.

The Long Shadow, The: Family Background, Disadvantaged Urban Youth, and the Transition to Adulthood

By: Karl Alexander, Doris Entwisle, Linda Olson
Age Level: Adult
Reading Level: Professional

Combining original interviews with Baltimore families, teachers, and other community members with the empirical data gathered from the authors’ groundbreaking research, The Long Shadow unravels the complex connections between socioeconomic origins and socioeconomic destinations to reveal a startling and much-needed examination of who succeeds and why. For 25 years, the authors tracked the life progress of a group of almost 800 predominantly low-income Baltimore school children through the Beginning School Study Youth Panel (BSSYP). The study monitored the children’s transitions to young adulthood with special attention to how opportunities available to them as early as first grade shaped their socioeconomic status as adults. The authors’ fine-grained analysis confirms that the children who lived in more cohesive neighborhoods, had stronger families, and attended better schools tended to maintain a higher economic status later in life.

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