4.16.2010Achievement Gap Makes the Hair on the NAEP of My Neck Stand Up

It's depressing to so many of us when we see evidence that certain racial or socioeconomic variables mean you are still today less likely to be given a quality education. It's even more frustrating to see evidence that progress is not being made. Much has been written on the "achievement gap" in education between poor and minorities and Caucasians from higher socio-economic strata. CNN has a nice feature that graphically displays this reality accross different measures.

Recently, the 2009 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) results were made public for 4th and 8th grade . And they continue to validate that this gap does indeed exist. This is a test administered by the US Dept. of Education for the purpose of comparing school progress accross state lines. The results not only show that the education gap still exists, but that what city you live in can mean as much as a four year difference in achievement.

Joel I. Klein (Chancellor of NY City Schools), Michael Lomax (CEO, United Negro College Fund), and Janet MurguĂ­a (CEO, La Raza) co-authored a Washington Post Op-Ed last week discussing dispartity of student performance from region to region, pointing out that in cities like Boston, New York, Miami, and Houston, African American and Latino students scored on average three years ahead of their counterparts in places like Detroit and Los Angeles.

What kind of school, what kind of learning environment can foster a successful closing of the achievement gap? Dr. Theresa Perry is an expert on what it takes to make a school ready to close the achievement gap (read a recent interview of Dr. Perry's here). She is also the author of a book on the topic. Dr. Perry says that to close the achievement gap we need to first to have a community or culture of achievement where simply being at the school means you are an achiever. In her words a lack of "differentiation". Sounds like Catholic schools to me.

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