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achievement gap

From Intel to Ariz.Craig Barrett

Craig Barrett, former Intel chief executive officer, was appointed in December to the Arizona Ready Education Council by Gov. Jan Brewer. Barrett would like Arizona to adopt the Common Core State Standards and reform teacher training and pay.

In 2009, a year after joining Illinois School District U-46 from his previous post as regional superintendent for Chicago Public Schools’ Area 14, Jose M. Torres made unprecedented cuts to his district’s budget and personnel.


Typical public school revenue streams such as state money and property taxes were decimated by the recession nationwide, and districts across Chicago faced deficits worse than U-46’s anticipated $60 million hole in the coming years. It wasn’t a surprise that cuts in U-46 were necessary, but Torres’ tactics were.

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This article is a republication with permission of "Effective Teaching as a Civil Right: 
How Building Instructional Capacity Can Help Close the Achievement Gap," by Linda Darling-Hammond, Voices in Urban Education no. 31 (Fall 2011), published by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University in collaboration with the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy, University of California Berkeley School of Law.

Proliferating across the country at what seems lightning speed is a law that grants parents an unprecedented degree of power to intervene in the fate of underperforming schools. First adopted in California in January 2010 and spurred by the Parent Revolution group out of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), what’s become known as the “parent trigger” law says that when a majority of parents with children in schools designated “failing” under No Child Left Behind demand administrators be replaced or that the school reopen as a charter, the district must comply.

It's a familiar refrain in American education: African-American children score lower on standardized tests, graduate high school at lower rates, and are considerably more likely to be suspended or expelled than the general population.

Back in the 1990s, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) in Charlotte, N.C., were plagued with racial equity issues and low academic performance. In 1996, only 66 percent of the students met state reading standards and just 40 percent of the district's black students performed at grade level in reading and math.

That same year, the board of education and school administrators started to map out a turnaround plan to ensure that all CMS students would have the chance to receive an education that would prepare them for college or for success in the workforce.

In an impoverished corner of Phoenix, just north of Sky Harbor International Airport, the first school district in Arizona to adopt a 200-day calendar is reporting impressive academic improvements after only one year.

The Center on Education Policy released three studies in June summarizing the achievement of minority students since the implementation of No Child Left Behind in 2002. Each of the three studies—analyzing the performances of African-American, Asian, and Latino students, and named Student Achievement Policy Briefs 1, 2 and 3 respectively— used official data from all 50 states from 2002 to the present.

From selecting appropriate curricula and teachers to providing classrooms with bathrooms easily accessible to 4-year-olds, public preschool programs present challenges to districts that run the programs, which are designed to prepare children to get off to a good start when they enter kindergarten.

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