In 2009 the State formed the Achievement Gap Oversight and Accountability Committee to synthesize the findings and recommendations from the 2008 achievement gap studies. You can read their report and review their recommendations for yourself.
You will find that very few of them have any practical value. In fact, I'm not sure that any of them do. A lot of the so-called recommendations are merely goals (i.e. "Increase the on-time and extended graduation rates for African American students to reach
parity with the highest-performing demographic group by 2014 and to achieve a 100 percent graduation rate by 2018." Even the recommendations that are actually recommendations are too vague to be of much value (i.e. "To be effective, leaders must have high expectations of all students and teachers, and a high degree of awareness of their own culture and the culture of others.")
In short, the whole report is crap. It represents the utter failure of the public K-12 education industry in the face of this challenge. They simply cannot say anything real.
Here's what would be real:
To close the academic achievement/opportunity gap schools and districts must identify every student who is working below grade level and provide those students with early and effective interventions designed to accelerate the students' education so they are quickly brought to grade level. That intervention should be extended, intensive, and enriched.
It should include an extended school day, week and year. It should include extended time on task. For elementary students there should be a ninety-minute block each day for each of the core subjects: reading, writing, math and science. It should include an extended day starting with breakfast in the morning and running through after-school time in the afternoon. The extended day provide the additional time, outside of the core study periods for recess, PE, the arts, music, study skills, and enrichment activities. These students need a stable space for study and the school can provide it. Social studies can be incorporated into the reading and writing curriculum. It should include an extended week with Saturday school. It should include an extended year with summer school in June and a booster week before school starts for other students in the fall.
It should be intensive. It should have a smaller than usual class size. The work should have an accelerated pacing because the students need to cover more ground in the same amount of time as general education students. The students should be actively engaged for as much of the time as possible. There should be a sense of urgency and an aggressive schedule for reaching grade level for each student.
It should be enriched. This is not a punishment or a boot camp. In addition, studies show that a signficant portion of the opportunity gap is attributable to a lack of enrichment activities. So the program should include a lot of field trips: to the library, to the theater, to the beach, to the zoo, to the aquarium, to factories, to all sorts of places. These activities will fit into the extended day or week.
When the students have reached grade level they will be returned to a regular classroom. They should go back to the classroom near the median of academic range of their class, not at the bottom. They should arrive ready and able to engage with the grade level curriculum and succeed and with the study skills needed to maintain their academic ranking in the class. In addition, the student's future progress should be monitored by a mentor assigned to follow the student, meet with the student periodically, and provide support as needed.
This effort will cost more money than doing nothing. It will cost more than doing ineffective things. It will, however, close the academic achievement gap within a few years and it will keep it closed.
There is no secret to closing the gap. Set and maintain high expectations and provide students with the support they need to achieve those expectations.