Three decades ago the American public and educational system was taken aback by the findings of the US government commission report A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform, which detailed how the achievement of US students severely lagged behind those of other youth around the world (NCEE, 1983). Numerous warnings were then uttered about how the lower performance of American school children jeopardized the nation’s ability to compete on a global scale; and educators were pressed to adopt numerous reforms aimed at raising standards, test scores, and “levels of excellence” (Darling-Hammond, 2010; NCEE, 1983, Appendix A). Today, concerns about US student achievement still abound; but critical educators and analysts also know that without educational equity and equal opportunity provided to American youth of all backgrounds, the educational success of many children will be suppressed along with the growth of the nation. It therefore is not enough to assess educational achievement or plan schooling reforms without considering the social and cultural contexts of schooling; understanding the diversity of American youth and their various backgrounds, assets, challenges, and needs; and acknowledging that opportunity and equity gaps impair many students’ schooling performance. The US and its public schools are now more racially, ethnically, linguistically,

and socially diverse than ever before (Center for Public Education, 2012;2 Shrestha and Heisler, 2011). Moreover, given that almost half of American children under five years of age are members of racial and ethnic “minority” groups, American public schools will continue to diversify (Center for Public Education, 2012). At the same time, the growing populations of people of color in the US do not account for the diversity that exists when it comes to students’ religions, sexual orientations, (dis)abilities, and other key components of their backgrounds and identities. Hence, innovative, inclusive, culturally, and socially relevant educational

approaches are needed to advance both equity and achievement in America’s diverse schools. This book offers insight, strategies, and recommendations that can help educators, researchers, policy-makers, and other educational advocates to promote student success and increase the United States’ ability to flourish in an interdependent, global society.