Professor Conducts Research on Early Educational Disadvantage and Inequality
George Farkas

Irvine, Calif., January 1, 2011

George Farkas is Professor of Education and Sociology at the University of California at Irvine and Acting Co-Director of the Ph.D. Program in Education. He arrived in Summer 2008 from Pennsylvania State University, where he was Professor of Sociology, Demography, and Education, and served as the Director of Graduate Studies in the Sociology Department and Director of the Statistics Core in the Population Research Institute. A sociologist, he has a long history of research on educational disadvantage and inequality, and interventions to reduce them.

Dr. Farkas’ interest in educational outcomes for low income children began when, from 1972-1978, he served on the faculty of the Department of Sociology and the Institution for Social and Policy Studies at Yale University. Then, working at Abt Associates, Inc., a Cambridge, Massachusetts think-tank, from 1978 to 1982, he evaluated the impacts of the Youth Incentive Entitlement Pilot Projects, a national demonstration project aimed to reduce school dropout and increase employment among low-income teenagers. The conclusion of this evaluation was that this intervention for teenagers was “too little, too late.” As a consequence, Dr. Farkas decided that the key to assisting disadvantaged youth lay in interventions beginning at younger ages. This insight has guided much of his subsequent research.

As a Professor of Sociology and Political Economy at the University of Texas at Dallas, Dr. Farkas began researching elementary and middle school student achievement within the Dallas School District in 1985. This led to articles in the American Sociological Review, the American Educational Research Journal, and other professional outlets, as well as his book, Human Capital or Cultural Capital? Ethnicity and Poverty Groups in an Urban School District. Working with business leaders from Texas Instruments and other corporations, Farkas was challenged to devise an intervention to raise the performance of low-income elementary school students. He responded by inventing the tutoring program, Reading One-to-One, which was implemented in a wide variety of school districts, and served as one of the models for President Clinton’s America Reads initiative of 1997, in which college work study students tutor elementary school students in reading. His paper, “Can All Children Learn to Read at Grade Level by the End of Third Grade?” was widely influential in promoting early reading initiatives.

Moving to Penn State in 2000, Dr. Farkas extended his studies of unequal achievement to elementary school students at risk of learning disabilities in reading and math, including grants (with Paul Morgan) from the American Educational Research Association to study the determinants and consequences of placement into special education, and from the U.S. Department of Education to study which instructional approaches are most effective in teaching mathematics to such students in grades K-5. This research has led to more than ten papers published in peer reviewed journals within the past two years, as well as a number of papers currently in press.

Most recently, Dr. Farkas has extended his studies of early inequality to the preschool years. This has led to a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, “Poverty, Low Birthweight, and Early Cognitive Delay: A Population-Based Approach,” with Marianne Hillemeier and Paul Morgan. It has also led to a grant with UC Irvine collaborators Margaret Burchinal, Greg Duncan, and Deborah Vandell, from the Institute of Education Sciences, USDOE, “Preschool Program Impacts on School Readiness: Variation by Prior Child Language and Attention Skills and the Quality of Infant/Toddler Care.” He is also collaborating with colleagues Mark Warschauer, Michael Martinez, and Penelope Collins on a study of interactive science and technology instruction for English learners funded by the National Science Foundation. Dr. Farkas regularly reviews for the Institute of Education Sciences, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and many professional journals. His recent publications include:

Hall, Matthew and George Farkas. (In press). "Adolescent Cognitive Skills, Attitudinal/Behavioral Traits, and Career Wages." Social Forces.

Domina, Thad, AnneMarie Conley, and George Farkas. (In press). "The Link Between Educational Expectations and Effort in the College-For-All Era." Sociology of Education.

Hall, Matthew, Emily Greenman, and George Farkas. (2010). “Legal Status and Wage Disparities for Mexican Immigrants.” Social Forces 89(2).

Hillemeier, Marianne, Paul Morgan, George Farkas, and Steven Maczuga. (In press). “Perinatal and Socioeconomic Risk Factors for Variable and Persistent Cognitive Delay at 24 and 48 Months in a National Sample.” Maternal and Child Health Journal.

Hibel, Jacob, George Farkas, and Paul Morgan. (2010). “Who is Placed into Special Education?” Sociology of Education.83 (4) 312-332.

Hammer, Carol, George Farkas, and Steve Maczuga. (2010). “The Language and Literacy Development of Head Start Children: A Study Using the Family and Child Experiences Survey Database.” Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools 41:70-83.

Morgan, Paul, Michelle  Frisco, George Farkas, and Jacob Hibel. (2010). “A Propensity Score Matching Analysis of the Effects of Special Education Services.” Journal of Special Education 43: 236 -254.

Dr. Farkas’ other research interests include gender and social class differences in educational achievement, as well as the effects of such achievement on employment and earnings. He is an expert on statistical methodology, and currently teaches two semesters of the statistical methodology course sequence for graduate students in the Ph.D. program in Education. He has a long history of co-authoring papers with graduate students, and is always ready to begin new projects on subjects of mutual interest.

Curriculum Vitae: 12/16/10