Closing the Achievement Gap

Throughout the years, I have heard the term “Achievement Gap” throughout political debates, newspaper articles and complaints of the general population. According to The National Assessment of Educational Progress, “achievement gaps occur when one group of students outperforms another group and the difference in average scores for the two groups is statistically significant (that is, larger than the margin of error).” For full research on achievement gaps, consult The National Assessment of Educational Process at http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/studies/gaps/.

 

In studying this phenomenon of “Achievement Gaps” in the American school system, I was left with one large question, which I think anyone who researches this problem will share: Why? Why is this an issue that is still so prevalent? In the article from Oregonian, “Racial gap in student achievement could be cultural bias, school leaders say,” author Melissa Navas attributes a large responsibility to the predominantly white race of educators. She recognizes the need for open discussion: this issue isn’t going to go away with silence, especially in the southernmost states, where the population of students with color is growing and the Achievement Gap is persisting.

The ability to recognize a problem is but the first step to finding a solution. In Mary Mooney’s article “Bridge achievement gap early, Multnomah County study urges,” she stresses the need for earlier education, such as Preschool and Kindergarten. I strongly agree with this idea of starting all students on an equal ground before sending them into school where they will be examined and tested against one another. She lists several schools that are successfully implementing early education and are resulting in a narrower gap between test scores.

I know that this issue will not be solved simply by students spending more time in school, but it is a great start to a problem that shouldn’t be a problem any longer.

 

Sources:

http://www.oregonlive.com/education/index.ssf/2009/02/bridge_achievement_gap_early_m.html

http://www.oregonlive.com/washingtoncounty/index.ssf/2009/07/racial_gap_in_student_achievem.html

http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/studies/gaps/

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