Compatibility of three basic goals of public education in the United States is examined. The goals are: (1) equal educational opportunity, interpreted as giving the same education to all students regardless of factors such as race and parental wealth; (2) general competence, defined as attainment of basic academic skills by the great preponderance of graduates; and (3) excellence, interpreted as achievement of academic potential. Consideration of the compatibility of these goals is undertaken within a framework of subthemes identified by educational researchers as major areas of concern. These include determining costs and benefits of steps schools might take to reduce inequality, diagnosing and dealing with special student capacities, financing remedial and/or gifted student programs, allocating materials and teachers, and grouping students according to ability. Review of existing educational research literature indicates that although researchers have produced much data on academic achievement, school role, and socioeconomic influences on education, they have generally not related their conclusions to goal compatibility. The conclusion is that researchers will contribute more to an understanding of goal compatibility if they design research linking an intensive case study approach with general analysis of data regarding objectives, achievement, and resource allocation from many types of schools. (DB)
Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association (74th, Boston, MA, September, 1979).