These two definitions for the "achievement gap" could potentially suggest different solutions. I like the second definition because it focuses on improving teaching and learning for all students who aren't meeting standards. Anitra Pinchback-Jones, an assistant high school principal and former teacher at the African American Academy, said in a Seattle Times article last fall that "I'm more than confident that if we have the right environment, leadership, highly skilled teachers, connections with the families, instructional material that is very excellent, every child — black, white, Asian — every ethnicity, will be able to succeed in our Seattle public schools." In my opinion, that should be the vision we are striving for --- success for all regardless of rcae and ethnicity.
Of course, the second definition of the "achievement gap" also raises the issue of whether or not we have identified the correct standards. And both definitions depend upon results generated by assessment tools which may be problematic.
One of the five goals of the Seattle School Board is to "Eliminate the achievement gap." And, to their credit, they actually define what they mean by the phrase:
Achievement Gap (disproportionality) – The disproportionate under representation of non-white students among those who are meeting academic standards, which is reflected statistically as a “gap” between white and non-white student outcomes in comparative achievement data.
Below are some recent articles and videos about Seattle Public Schools and efforts to close the "achievement gap."
- Parents visited before kids entered schools (West Seattle Herald, Jan. 2007)
- Alliance for Education Forum on the Achievement Gap (Seattle Channel video, Nov. 2006)
- Educators seek way to close achievement gap (PI, Nov. 2006)
- WASL achievement gap costly to fix ... (Times, Nov. 2006)
- Which Way Seattle? Series: Inequality in Public Education (Seattle Channel video, Oct. 2006)
- Seattle schools would like to break out in bright spots (Times, Sept. 2006)
- Schools get grant to close achievement gap (PI, April 2006)