Closing Achievement Gaps

Closing achievement gaps is a shared responsibility. The purpose of this website is to provide research, resources, and recommended reading for educators, parents and the community to empower collaborative efforts toward improving the success of all students.

Achievement gaps is a term for a complex set of problems referring to disparities in achievement between a high-performing demographic group and all other demographic groups. The disparities can occur on a number of measures, such as graduation rates, school achievement, test scores and participation in college preparatory coursework and other challenging curricula.

Achievement gaps are a pervasive problem with deep roots in our social history. Any review of the literature on achievement gaps reveals a number of probable causes that exist both within and outside of schools. The variables are many; they are complex in nature, and they are intricately inter-related. Gaps exist in Ohio schools at all economic levels and in urban, rural and suburban settings.

Ohio’s State Board of Education created an Achievement Gaps Task Force in which parents and representatives from over twenty organizations studied the achievement gap problem in Ohio and issued a report with recommendations. The report, issued in May, 2003, provided recommendations for strategies in three areas:

•    Drive focus toward high achievement for all.
•    Ensure that educators are well prepared and supported.
•    Adapt structures to the needs of the students served.

In response to the recommendations from the Achievement Gaps Task Force, the Ohio Department of Education launched the State Superintendent’s Schools of Promise Initiative. This initiative recognizes Ohio schools that are closing achievement gaps and producing high achievement for all students. Those schools have demonstrated that it is possible to close achievement gaps, despite having student demographics often associated with low performance.  A study of these schools revealed evidence of the following elements:
•    Rigorous standards and instruction
•    Strong instructional leadership;
•    Instruction designed for all students’ success
•    Parent and community involvement;
•    A positive school culture

Research, resources and recommended reading

Toward High Achievement for All Students: The Report of the State Board of Education of Ohio’s Achievement Gaps Task Force
This report presents the recommended strategies for closing achievement gaps in Ohio from the 27-member task force of educators, parents, business leaders, community leaders, and policy leaders.

State Superintendent’s Schools of Promise
The State Superintendent’s Schools of Promise initiative was launched in 2003 to identify, recognize and highlight schools that are closing achievement gaps by making substantial progress in ensuring high achievement for all students.

Achievement Gaps: Improving Success for All Students – National Education Association
NEA resources, tools and research to help educators, parents and the community understand and address the achievement gap.

The Power of Family School Community Partnerships: A Training Resource Manual
This manual provides simple, but provocative, strategies for uncovering what gets in the way of partnering and outlines clear paths for creating partnerships that support student and school success.

C.A.R.E.: Strategies for Closing the Achievement Gaps
C.A.R.E.: Strategies for Closing the Achievement Gaps offers strategies for improving the learning experiences of diverse students, especially those who are struggling to achieve at high levels. It focuses on four factors that affect student achievement: Culture, Abilities, Resilience, and Effort (C.A.R.E.).

Dr. Jacqueline Jordan Irvine – Avoiding Stereotyping
Dr. Jacqueline Jordan Irvine, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Urban Education Emerita at Emory University,
discusses the unintended consequences of over-generalizing cultural differences of students.

NEA Foundation Closing the Achievement Gaps Initiative
This initiative provides support to teacher unions and local school districts engaged in collaborative approaches to systemic school reform.

The Achievement Gaps Initiative at Harvard University
The Achievement Gap Initiative (AGI) is a university-wide initiative based at the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.  The AGI provides research and resources that connect research, policy and practice in pursuit of excellence with equity.

National Center for Urban School Transformation
NCUST identifies the nation’s best urban schools and has created a platform to share the lessons learned from these high performing urban schools.

Closing the Gap: An Overview – Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

Teachers Unions and Management Partnerships: How Working Together Improves Student Achievement
This report illustrates the positive impact that institutional partnerships and collaboration can have on student achievement.

Excerpts: “Pursuing Excellence with Racial Equity: A Social Movement for the 21st Century”
This is an excerpt of noted scholar, Ronald Ferguson’s address at the 2011 Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture at Brown University wherein he focused on the racial achievement gap, which has been the focus of much of his research and writing for the last two decades.

Ohio Leadership Advisory Council
OLAC’s mission is to provide educators with the structures and resources necessary to develop and support effective leadership at every level. The centerpiece of OLAC’s work is the Ohio Leadership Development Framework. This framework promotes the use of collaborative structures – district leadership teams (DLTs), building leadership teams (BLTs), and teacher-based teams (TBTs) – to lead schools and share the responsibility for improving student achievement.