Education Today. The Race & Class Gap
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- Pre-kindergarten kids in the highest socioeconomic bracket score much higher in cognitive learning than students in the lowest socioeconomic bracket, according to the U.S. Department of Education\'s Early Childhood Longitudinal Study.
- With older students, 76 percent of those in middle- to higher-income areas are likely to graduate from high school, compared to 56 percent in lower-income areas, according to the Urban Institute.
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This achievement gap has been a key focus in the national debate over improving America\'s schools; closing the gap was a central theme of the No Child Left Behind Act when Bush signed it into law in 2002.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, often cite the achievement gap in their own foundation\'s efforts to help American schools. In remarks to the National Education Summit on High Schools in 2005, Gates said today\'s high schools aren\'t meeting 21st-century needs.
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• Los Angeles, Calif. – Rafe Esquith teaches at an inner-city school known as “the Jungle,” where few of his students speak English at home, and many are from poor or troubled families. Year after year, he leads his students to excel – reading far above their grade level, tackling algebra and even staging Shakespeare at a professional level.
• Seattle, Wash. – This past April, Seattle Public Schools received a $250,000 grant from the National Education Association to help the school system close achievement gaps for minority and low-income students. Over five years, they could receive $1.25 million.
• Boston, Mass. – Departing Superintendent of Schools Thomas Payzant announced last summer that closing the achievement gap would be the public schools’ top priority. What resulted? The number of African-American students at Boston Community Leadership Academy demonstrating proficiency in math jumped by 20 percentage points. Volunteers from Boston Partners in Education have been tutoring students on a daily basis. Find out how these success stories became realities at Education Success.
"Today, only one-third of our students graduate from high school ready for college, work and citizenship," Gates said. "The other two-thirds, most of them low-income and minority students, are tracked into courses that won\'t ever get them ready for college or prepare them for a family-wage job - no matter how well the students learn or the teachers teach."
It\'s a symptom of our entire education system, he said. "In district after district, wealthy white kids are taught Algebra II, while low-income minority kids are taught to balance a checkbook! The first group goes on to college and careers; the second group will struggle to make a living wage."
The good news is that schools are trying different tactics to address the gap: reducing class sizes, creating smaller inner-city schools, improving the quality of teachers provided to poor and minority students, raising academic standards and more.
Articles in this series:
strong>How Schools Are Confronting Their Own Problems: As kids stock up on notebooks, pencils and calculators for the new school year, teachers and administrators are beginning their fifth year under the country\'s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) education reform law.
The Lag in Math & Science: We may be a country with vastly more resources than other nations, but when it comes to math and science know-how, our kids don\'t seem to count.
Boys\' Academic Failure: The worry that boys are falling behind girls academically has repeatedly made headlines this year. But debate continues over whether this is actually true.
Decaying School Buildings: With all the emphasis on boosting students\' academic skills, it\'s not surprising that efforts and resources to maintain older school buildings have fallen by the wayside.
font face=\"Verdana\">Helping Your Child Learn Science and Helping Your Child Learn Math, both by N. Paulu, M. Martin and M. Scott, are free booklets for parents from the U.S. Department of Education. Call 877-433-7827 to order.