The achievement gap facing low income, African American, and Latino populations is undoubtedly a complicated problem. It is defined as the “disparity between the academic performances of different groups of students”. Most of the data on the achievement gap is gathered from the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), also known as the “nation’s report card”. Some reports suggest that these students arrive at disadvantage, which is then perpetuated through their schooling (Learning Point Associates, 2003). This paper will explore some of the factors correlated with low achievement and more importantly the strategies that might work towards closing the gap. The solution is not easy and will require a range of approaches as well as efforts from the national government, states, local districts, schools, families and students.
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 2002 requires achievement data to be reported by group, both racially and economically. Schools must now track the performance progress of groups, rather than on a general school average. This probably didn’t spark much discussion in states like California, because they have already been doing this for decades. However, there are many states that had never made such reports, which resulted in the first-ever public acknowledgement of group differences in performance (Haycock, 2002).
The racial and economic achievement gap has now been accepted and well documented for high poverty and high minority schools. A school in which at least half of the students qualify for subsidized school meals is classified as a high poverty school. A high minority school is one in which at least half of the student body are minorities (Olsen, 2003). Over the pa...
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...15, No.4 (2001).
Haycock, Kati. “State Policy Levers: Closing the Achievement Gap.” The State Education Standard. Winter 2002: 6-13.
Learning Points Associates. North Central Regional Educational Library. 2003.
Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. “Closing the Achievement Gap Requires Multiple Solutions.” 2001.
Olsen, Lynn “The Great Divide.” Education Week on the Web. 9 Jan 2003.
Quality Counts. “To Close the Gap, Quality Counts” Education Week on the Web. 9 Jan 2003.
Rips, Geoff. “Runn Also Rises” Texas Monthly. October 1999: 56-71.
U.S. Department of Education. “Closing the Achievement Gap in America’s Public Schools.” 2003.
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