The Gap Of The Achievement Gap Essay

The Gap Of The Achievement Gap Essay

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Once again, the initial purpose of our study was to see not only how the recent literature on the opportunity gap relates to educational practitioners through the sense making of school leaders but also how that sense making leads to data use to address what we term “justice in the gaps.” To control for a bias response, school leaders were asked the open-response question, “What is your understanding of the achievement gap?” On the one hand, our findings demonstrate a progress by school leaders in adjusting their mindset towards language accentuating opportunity gaps. On the other hand, many school leaders continue to perceive the achievement gap in the abstract and technical manner. For instance, of the twenty-two participants, only two participants clearly discuss the issue of the achievement gap as an opportunity gap.
Scarlett Johnson, with poise, declared the gap as a gap an opportunity. Johnson, an African-American woman, is the principal at Grant Elementary, a city school with a student demographic of 92% African-American and with 84% students identified as economically disadvantaged. When asked about her understanding of the achievement gap, Johnson tells us,

So, that is something that I hate, that terminology, so I don’t use it. I don’t like the word, the terminology achievement gap, because that puts it on the child. It kind of blames the child for . . .because it is their achievement, it’s a gap in your achievement versus a white child’s achievement.

Here, Johnson, with a hint rancor, describes her hostility towards the language of achievement gap because it places a judgment on the student. Indeed, according to researcher Fenwick English (2002), the underachievement of students of color has predominately been portra...


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...stood in her response about her relationship with students. She makes the following comment:

I try to get to know them, know where they live, know their parents, understand their circumstances . . .We have kids that come to our school, they have lots of baggage they come with. And so I try to make sure I have relationships with kids so that if there is something going on with them that I need to know that is impacting their ability to learn, I can figure out what I can do, so that, that obstacle is not in the way. While they are here, for the time that they are here, it’s to make things, as smooth as possible, so they can focus on learning.

This statement shows something of the resolve of Gaffney’s concern towards empathy; regardless of the circumstances that her students face, her responsibility as a school leader is to make sure students learn. In other words,

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