The Education Gap (or Achievement Gap or Opportunity Gap) and Models of Effective School Reform
The Education Trust -- a national organization devoted to research and action to address the education/opportunity gap. Their research reports on both issues/problems AND successful schools and effective educational strategies. This site provides lots of excellent resources.
The Dispelling the Myth Award -- "The Dispelling the Myth program honors schools that serve large populations of poor or minority students and meet one or more of the following criteria: They have made significant strides narrowing gaps in academic achievement between different groups of students; their achievement exceeds that of the state; or they are making improvements at a rapid pace. These schools work to silence the dangerous belief that student achievement has more do with a child’s background than with the quality of education a child receives. On a daily basis, the educators at these schools demonstrate that all children, no matter their background, can achieve academic success." This is an annual award given out by the The Education Trust and for articles about award winning schools and more, please go here.
Whither Opportunity? Rising Inequality, Schools and Children's Life Chances -- information and an executive summary about a 2011 book that "illuminates the ways rising inequality is undermining one of the most important goals of public education -- the ability of schools to provide children with an equal chance at academic and economic success."
The Nation’s Report Card -- This website is full of charts and figures on 2008’s reading and mathematics scores. You can isolate data from a variety of categories of student scores including student age level (ages 9, 13, and 17), race, social class, gender, and parent education.
Education Gap Grows Between Rich and Poor, Studies Say -- This article from the New York Times discusses the way that, despite the achievement gap between white and black students slowly decreasing over time, the gap between poor and wealthy students is drastically increasing. It also discusses possible reasons for this achievement gap.
Fifty Years After Brown v. Board of Education: A Two-Tiered Education System -- a 2004 national report about inequalities in education that contribute significantly to the achievement gap.
Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates -- lots of useful date from the 1980's through 2008.
High School Graduation Rates in the United States -- a report of 4-year high school completion rates for the class of 1998 -- very distressing numbers.
"Crisis" Graduation Gap Found Between Cities and Suburbs -- an article with data from 2003-04 showing that our major cities have much lower graduation rates than do their adjacent suburban districts.
High School Graduation Rates Unacceptably Low, State Says -- an article about 2005 4-year high school graduation rates in New York State and City.
Low Income Hinders College Attendance Even for the Highest Achieving Students -- a report, with an excellent graph, that provides evidence of how low income students are less likely to attend college, even with high academic achievement.
Mind the Gap: Why Good Schools are Failing Black Students -- an excellent 2009 radio documentary about how in many well-funded suburban schools where white students are doing well, many black and Hispanic students, even youth from middle-class families, are falling behind. This one-hour radio documentary looks at the causes of the minority achievement gap through the stories of students, teachers, and parents at a diverse public high school in Maplewood, NJ.
Closing the Racial Achievement Gap: The Best Strategies of the Schools We Send Them To -- a good article by Dr. Pedro Noguera, who has done extensive research on this issue.
Yes We Can: Telling the Truths and Dispelling the Myths About Race and Education in America -- a 2006 report that examines the educational practices and policies that have raised academic achievement for low-income and minority students, and offers compelling evidence that children of color excel in school when given the right teaching, right classes, and right support.
Closing Achievement Gaps-- an issue of Educational Leadership (Nov. 2004) devoted to this topic -- includes analysis of contributing factors and information about model programs and solutions.
Middle Class and Marginal? -- Four studies are used to illustrate the way that even students from middle-class homes may be negatively influenced by their socioeconomic backgrounds when surrounded by peers of even higher SES at elite universities.
Achievement Gap Theater -- theater for the education-reform movement. Playwright-activist Brooke Haycock presents one-woman documentary dramas that address some of the most emotionally charged issues we face in American education today. Designed for educators, parents, policymakers, and advocates, her performances spark tough conversations about equity in schools.
Boundary Crossing for Diversity, Equity and Achievement: Inter-District School Desegregation and Educational Opportunity -- a 2009 study that "provides an overview of the educational and social benefits of eight inter-district school desegregation programs – from Boston to East Palo Alto, CA -- that have enabled disadvantaged, Black and Latino students to cross school district boundary lines and attend far more affluent, predominantly White and privileged suburban public schools. These programs, some of which date back to the Civil Rights Movement, grew out of grassroots struggles for social justice and are aimed at reducing inequality by assuring that students who have traditionally had the fewest educational opportunities would gain access to the “best” schools. Despite the fact that these programs are out of sync with the current political framing of problems and solutions in the field of education, the research on these programs to date suggests that they are far more successful than recent choice and accountability policies at closing the achievement gaps and offering meaningful school choices."
Educating Urban Minority Youth: Research on Effective Practices -- a good summary report on the major issues and research suggesting how schools can improve.
The Teaching Diverse Students Initiative -- a program designed to help educators address the education gap "by providing research-based resources for improving the teaching of racially and ethnically diverse students." Includes a set of online tools that can be adapted for use in schools and classrooms.
Gauging the Gaps: A Deeper Look at Student Achievement -- a study that "illustrates the pitfalls of one-dimensional appraisals of achievement gaps", making the argument that "analyzing the gaps from four perspectives is essential to gain a comprehensive, accurate picture of equity".
Closing the Achievement Gap in Suburban and Urban School Communities -- an excellent report of a large scale study.
Gaining Traction, Gaining Ground: How Some High Schools Accelerate Learning for Struggling Students -- a study by the Education Trust of schools that have made "better than expected gains with previously underperforming students."
Edutopia -- an organization committed to identifying and supporting practices and programs in public education that work, with an emphasis on global and project-oriented learning -- the site includes "hundreds of exemplary programs and smart practices."
The Harlem Children's Zone -- a radio report about Geoffery Canada's ambitious and hopeful reform project in Harlem, New York City.
The Harlem Children's Zone Website -- detailed information about Geoffery Canada's reform organization, which implements the attitude, "whatever it takes" to prove that "poor, black children can and do succeed."
The Power to Change: High Schools that Help All Students Achieve -- another Education Trust study of schools that are achieving success in addressing the achievement gap.
How the World's Best Performing School Systems Come Out On Top -- a study of 25 of the world's school systems, including 10 of the top performers, to discover what the best systems have in common.
Students as Allies In Improving Their Schools -- a great program that sponsors projects designed to engage youth in action research projects aimed at improving their schools -- very valuable insight into the perspectives, experiences, and capabilities of young people.
Relationships Matter: Linking Teacher Support to Student Engagement and Achievement -- an article documenting what effective teachers do to build relationships with students that lead to school success.
Closing the Racial Achievement Gap: The Best Strategies of the Schools We Send Them To -- a good article by Harvard Professor Dr. Pedro Noguera.
America's Next Achievement Test: Closing the Black-White Test Score Gap -- a good article about this important issue.
The Canary in the Mine: The Achievement Gap between Black and White Students -- an excellent 1998 article that discusses explanations for this gap and research indicating how the gap can be narrowed and eliminated.
What Is the Relationship Between Race and Achievement in Our Schools? -- a statement of purpose by the Minority Student Achievement Network, a network of schools (many predominantly White) working to address the achievement gap.
Closing the Achievement Gap: Two Views from Current Research -- a 2003 discussion of research about the experiences of African American and Latino students in suburban schools -- includes discussion of work by now deceased UC Berkeley Prof. John Ogbu, about the experiences of African American students in Shaker Heights, OH, and by Harvard Prof. Ron Ferguson.
Closing the Achievement Gap by Detracking -- an article about how one high school achieved significant effects by detracking.
The Trouble with Black Boys: The Role and Influence of Environmental and Cultural Factors on the Academic Performance of African American Males-- a very good article by scholar Pedro Noguera -- valuable for all who are interested in addressing the education/achievement gap.
Thin Ice: "Stereotype Threat" and Black College Students-- another valuable article by Stanford Professor, Claude Steele, from 1999 -- explains the concept of stereotype threat and related research -- very useful to educators and teachers.
The Catalog of School Reform Models -- a 2001 report about numerous models of school reform, with good descriptions and data -- valuable information for anyone interested in addressing the education gap!
The National Clearinghouse for Comprehensive School Reform -- "NCCSR collects and disseminates information that builds the capacity of schools to raise the academic achievement of all students."
How High Schools Become Exemplary: Ways That Leadership Raises Achievement and Narrows Gaps by Improving Instruction -- a great 2010 report about how 15 high schools have overcome the achievement gap, published by the The Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard University.
High Schools for Equity: Policy Brief -- the executive summary of a study that "documents the practices and outcomes of five urban high schools in California that do an extraordinary job of preparing their students for success in higher education, productive careers, and a fulfilling life."
High Schools for Equity: The Full Report -- the full report of the this study that "documents the practices and outcomes of five urban high schools in California that do an extraordinary job of preparing their students for success in higher education, productive careers, and a fulfilling life."
The Village at Ithaca -- a community-based organization of concerned citizens who are working in Ithaca, NY to eliminate the education gap.
Webster Groves Writing Project -- a successful multicultural approach to the teaching of writing -- this program has been written about in a number of books and articles about effective use of culture in designing and delivering instruction.
AVID -- a program that "places academically average students in advanced classes and supports them for success there" -- it has been very successful as measured by college admission rates of program participants, most of whom are students from groups with a history of high dropout rates and underperformance in school.
The Algebra Project -- an exceptional math education program, now nationally recognized, created by Civil Rights activist and Harvard Ph.D., Bob Moses -- a creative and culturally responsive approach to teaching African American and other youth algebra -- algebra is a major gatekeeping discipline and course that often determines whether youth are placed on the college prep path -- the program works, and the website includes lesson ideas and other useful information.
Successful K-12 Programs -- an annotated list of model programs that achieve success with diverse youth through culturally responsive teaching and good supports achieveing academic excellence.
Success Stories -- stories about schools that have "made significant strides in narrowing the achievement gaps, attained proficiency levels that significantly exceeded the averages in their states, or improved student performance at an especially rapid pace."
PUMP: The Pittsburgh Urban Math Project -- a program that "attempts to make high school Algebra accessible to all students through the use of situational curriculum materials and an intelligent computer based tutoring system."
The Preuss School -- a charter middle and high school dedicated to providing a rigorous college prep education for motivated low-income students who will become the first in their families to graduate from college -- affiliated with the Univ. of California, San Diego.
Inner City School Founder: No Miracle, Just Teaching -- a radio program segment about Paul Adams who took a once Catholic school from the brink of being closed to becoming a very successful non-profit independent school that sends 100% of its inner city students to college. From the Providence St. Mel website: "To score highly on standardized tests, our faculty helps students build their critical thinking and problem solving skills."
The Salvadori Center -- a program of teaching math, science, and engineering in poorly funded schools through hands-on architectural projects -- started by a president of Columbia Univ. in the 1970's.
Uri Treisman's Merit Workshop Model -- an article about the important work and ideas of Uri Treisman, who has demonstrated how to improve teaching effectiveness when working with African American students who are not doing well in school -- he replaces remedial approaches with an honors program approach that encourages students to collaborate on challenging problems in an environment of high expectations.
Accelerated Schools Project-- an approach to school reform based on the idea of providing students of limited resources with accelerated, rather than remedial, instruction -- accelerated schools use ideas from gifted and talented education to improve the education of students of limited resources -- and it works!
School Redesign Network -- an organization at Stanford University that sponsors valuable work on school reform, much of it centered around creating smaller and more caring, supportive schools.
Comer School Development Program -- started by Yale professor of child psychiatry, Dr. James Comer, this nationally recognized program helps schools develop strong bonds with parents and community that translate into significant academic performance gains -- Dr. Comer started with one school in a poor neighborhood in New Haven, CT and has built a national model for school reform that works.
Schools that Develop Children -- an excellent article by Dr. James Comer about the value of a systemic and developmental approach to school reform -- the ideas presented here are the foundation of the Comer School Development Program, the success of which has demonstrated the value of these ideas.
School of the 21st Century -- a school reform model that is very community oriented -- based on the ideas of Edward Zigler, a professor at Yale University -- Zigler was one of the originators of the Head Start program -- this site includes great detail and research about the nature and effectiveness of the schools that use this model.
Harlem Children's Zone -- a program founded in 1970 and now run by Geoffery Canada, The Harlem Children's Zone is "a pioneering, non-profit, community-based organization that works to enhance the quality of life for children and families in some of New York City's most devastated neighborhoods. Formerly known as Rheedlen Centers for Children and Families, HCZ, Inc.'s 15 centers serve more than 13,000 children and adults, including over 10,000 at-risk children. The emphasis of The Children's Zone work is not just on education, social service and recreation, but on rebuilding the very fabric of community life.
The Capstone Institute at Howard University -- "Capstone Institute is a multi-disciplinary center that implements and supports school reform and school improvement initiatives that focus on "educating the whole child," and interlinks research, theory and practice in the areas of learning, curriculum and instruction, professional development, social work, policy, parent and community engagement, organizational change, assessment and evaluation, and psychosocial/emotional development."
Minority Student Achievement Network -- a "national coalition of 21 multiracial, urban-suburban school districts across the United States" that works "to discover, develop and implement the means to ensure high academic achievement for students of color, specifically African American and Latino students."
KIPP Schools (Knowledge is Power Program) -- a model school program achieving significant success with children of color and limited resources who are so often relegated to inferior schools and education -- based on a combination of traditional and progressive educational ideas and begun by two grads of the Teach For America program.
Uncommon Schools -- a charter school organization that is achieving significant success in addressing the education gap -- students at their North Star Academy, in Newark, NJ, (most of whom are students of color who recieve free and reduced lunch) outperform students statewide on standardized tests and go on to college at very high rates (100% in 2006).
Center for Research on Education, Diversity, and Excellence -- a research center at the University of California, Berkeley, that promotes education reform to address the education gap.
The Harvard Family Research Project -- a project founded on the belief that "for children and youth to be successful, there must be an array of learning supports around them. These supports, which must reach beyond school, should be linked and work toward consistent learning and developmental outcomes for children from birth through adolescence. Examples of nonschool learning supports include early childhood programs, families, after school programs, libraries, and other community-based institutions."
Prep for Prep -- an excellent and successful program that demonstrates the fundamental power and value of high expectations and real opportunity in education.
Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America -- "Working in conjunction with high schools, Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America (LEDA) seeks to identify promising high school juniors whose socio-economic, racial, and/or ethnic background is currently under-represented at the nation's top colleges and universities. LEDA's goal is to guide these students through the college application process, prepare them for the college experience and position them for leadership in the private and public sectors."
Educating Young Minds -- an exciting program in Los Angeles. "Educating Young Minds is a non-profit learning center that has been helping inner-city school children, ages 5-18, excel at school and at life since 1987. With “home-study” instruction during the day, after-school tutoring, and basic skills and standardized test preparation classes on Saturdays, Educating Young Minds is a vigorous program that serves students who are considered under-represented or at high risk in our society. Educating Young Minds also supports the progressive student who desires advanced academic support."
The SEED School -- an interesting charter public school idea in Washington, DC, that involves students living at the school during the week. In both 2004 and 2005 100% of SEED School graduates went to college.
Closing the Achievement Gap -- a documentary film about Amistad Academy, a charter school founded in 1999, with the goal of "closing the persistent and dramatic achievement gap between minority students and white students in America's public school system."
The SAGE Program -- The Student Achievement Guarantee in Education (SAGE) program has been proven to improve student achievement in schools serving low-income communities. It does this through a reduction in class size, longer school hours, collaboration with community organizations, rigorous curriculum and high standards for teachers. When compared with the use of vouchers, this program produces higher levels of achievement through school reform rather than school choice.
Success for All Foundation -- a "comprehensive and effective school-restructuring program for the education of our children in reading, writing, mathematics, and the social sciences."
The Institute for Student Achievement -- "The Institute for Student Achievement (ISA) is a not-for-profit organization, founded in 1990, that works in partnership with high schools to enable at-risk students to stay in school, graduate, and go on to college and the world of work."
Pathways to School Improvement -- a website providing a synthesis of information about research, policy, and best practices related to achieving school improvement and closing the achievement gap.
The New Roots School -- a charter school in Ithaca, NY that is "committed to sustainability education and social justice".
Raising the Scores -- an audio/photo piece from the NYTimes online about a school in Newark, NJ where they are attempting to reform and address the education gap.
New Leaders for New Schools -- a national non-profit organization that selects and trains passionate individuals from within education, as well as former educators, to become urban public school principals.
A Database of Evaluation Research about Before and Afterschool Programs -- put together by the Harvard Family Research Project, this database is useful in better understanding the characteristics of effective programs.
No Child Left Behind -- the official government website for and about this federal school reform legislation.
John Hunter: Teaching with the World Peace Game -- a TED Talk by 4th grade teacher John Hunter about an incredible role play project he uses with his students to develop skills of critical analysis, reasoning, emotional intelligence, and much more. A very inspiring video and an amazing teacher and man!
Some Good Books and Articles
Baker, Melissa, and Pattie Johnson. 2010. The Impact of Socioeconomic Status on High Stakes Testing Reexamined. Journal of Instructional Psychology.
Barton, P. 2004. Why Does the Gap Persist? Educational Leadership, 62(3):8-13.
Caldas, Stephen J., and Carl Bankston. 1997. Effect of School Population Socioeconomic Status on Individual Academic Achievement. The Journal of Educational Research.
Chenowith, K. 2007. "It's Being Done": Academic Success in Unexpected Schools. Harvard Universtiy Press.
Chenowith, K. 2009. How It's Being Done: Urgent Lessons from Unexpected Schools. Harvard Education Press.
Chenowith, K. 2010. Leavning Nothing to Chance: Principals from High Performing, High Poverty, and High Minority Schools Discuss What It Takes to Ensure that All Students Achieve. Educational Leadership, 68(3), 16-21.
Comer, J., et al., 1996. Rallying the Whole Village: The Comer Process for Reforming Education. Teachers College Press.
Conchas, G. 2006. The Color of Success: Race and High Achieving Urban Youth. Teachers College Press.
Delpit, L. 1995. Other People's Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom. The New Press.
DeRoche, T. 2004. Not Just a Necessary Evil: When Teachers Embrace Standards and Testing. Education Week.
Educational Leadership, 2004. The entire issue of Educational Leadership, November, 2004 (#62, v.3) is devoted to "Closing the Achievement Gaps."
Educational Leadership, 2006. The entire issue of Educational Leadership, February, 2006 (#63, v. 5) is devoted to "Helping Struggling Students."
Espinoza-Herold, M. 2003. Issues in Latino Education: Race, School Culture, and the Politics of Academic Success. Allyn and Bacon.
Ferguson, R. 2007. Toward Excellence with Equity: An Emerging Vision for Closing the Achievement Gap. Harvard Education Press.
Finnan, C. & Swanson, J. 2000. Accelerating The Learning of All Students: Cultivating Culture Change in Schools, Classrooms, and Individuals. Westview Press.
Gay, G. 2010. Culturally Responsive Teaching. Teachers College Press.
Gonzalez, M. et al., (Ed.) 1998. Educating Latino Students: A Guide to Successful Practice. Technomic Publishing.
Irons, P.. 2002. Jim Crow's Children: The Broken Promise of the Brown Decision. Penguin Group.
Kunjufu, J. 1997. Motivating and Preparing Black Youth for Success. African American Images.
Ladson-Billings, G. 1994. The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children. Jossey-Bass.
Lewis, A. 2004. Washington Commentary: Redefining "Inexcusable." Phi Delta Kappan
Mehan, H. et al., 1996. Constructing School Success: The Consequences of Untracking Low-Achieving Students. Cambridge Univ. Press.
Morris, V. & Morris, C. 2000. Creating Caring and Nurturing Educational Environments for African American Children. Bergin and Garvey/Greenwood Publishing.
Moses, R. 2001. Radical Equations: Civil Rights from Mississippi to the Algebra Project. Beacon Press.
Nasir, N. & Cobb, P. (Eds.) 2007. Improving Access to Mathematics: Diversity and Equity in the Classroom. Teachers College Press.
Noguera, P. 2003. City Schools and the American Dream: Reclaiming the Promise of Public Education. Teachers College Press.
Noguera, P & Wing, J. (Eds.). 2006. Unfinished Business: Closing the Racial Achievement Gap in Our Schools. Jossey-Bass.
Perry, T., Steele, C., & Hilliard, A. 2003. Young, Gifted and Black: Promoting High Achievement among African-American Students. Beacon Press.
Price, H.B.. 2002. Achievement Matters: Getting Your Child the Best Education Possible. Kensington Publishing Corp
Reyes, P. et al., (Eds.), 1999. Lessons from High Performing Hispanic Schools: Creating Learning Communities. Teachers College Press.
Roach, R. 2001. Gaining New Perspectives on the Achievement Gap (Algebra Project, Math and Science Literacy). Black Issues in Higher Education, 18(1).
Slavin, R. & Calderon, M. 2001. Effective Programs for Latino Students. Lawrence Erlbaum.
Thernstorm, A., Thernstorm, S.. 2003. No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning. Simon & Schuster.
Thompson, G.. 2009. A Brighter Day: How Parents Can Help African American Youth. African American Images.
Trumball, E. 2001. Bridging Cultures Between Home and School: A Guide for Teachers, with a Special Focus on Immigrant Latino Families. Lawrence Erlbaum.
Valdes, G. 2001. Learning and Not Learning English: Latino Students in American Schools. Teachers College Press.
Valencia, R. (Ed.) 1991. Chicano School Failure and Success. Falmer Press.
Valenzuela, A. 1999. Subtractive Schooling: U.S.-Mexican Youth and the Politics of Caring. SUNY Press.
Walpole, M. 2007. Social Class Effects and Multiple Identities. Economically and Educationally Challenged Students in Higher Education.
Walsh, C. 1996. Pedagogy and the Struggle for Voice: Issues of Language, Power and Schooling for Puerto Ricans. Bergin & Garvey.
Welch, O. 1997. Standing Outside on the Inside: Black Adolescents & the Construction of Academic Identity. SUNY Press.
Zero-tolerance policies lack flexibility -- This article explores different zero tolerance policies regarding weapons, alcohol and drugs. It argues that extreme policies are not the answer to dealing with unwanted conduct in schools.
Zero Tolerance Policies: Are the Schools Becoming Police States? -- In this article John Whitehead goes into detail about why teachers and officials do have a choice when it comes to punishing a student under a zero tolerance policy.
Zero Tolerance, California Department of Education -- This website goes in depth about California’s Department of Education zero tolerance policy on weapons. Not only does it explain the policy in full detail, it expresses reasons why zero tolerance policies are thought to be beneficial and needed.
Zero-tolerance policies bleed education -- This article takes a look at the discrimination that comes along with zero tolerance policies and shows why eliminating zero tolerance policies can be beneficial to the students’ educations.
Zero-tolerance policies pushing up school suspensions, report says -- This article explores the overwhelming increase in suspensions, especially for minority students, due to zero tolerance school policies.