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Closing the Gaps
The data are clear: When we as a nation focus on something, we make progress. This is evident in our students’ achievement after more than a decade of attention to improving elementary education. In 1996, nearly three of every four African-American fourth-graders could not perform at a basic level in mathematics. By 2007, that was down to 30 percent. This is a real testimony to the hard work of educators and students across the country.
But we cannot for a minute rest on this success. Far too many young people still enter high school unprepared. And the gaps separating the achievement of African-American and Latino twelfth-graders from their white peers are bigger now than they were in the late 1980s. These gaps in reading and mathematics performance are coupled with glaring differences in graduation rates for different groups of young people.
To close these devastating gaps once and for all, we will need to summon the courage and the will to change a practice that continues to leave low-income students and students of color behind—the practice of providing those students who arrive at school less prepared with less of everything we know matters in school, too.
Thankfully, some schools and districts have confronted these inequities and are proving that all students—regardless of race, ethnicity, income, or background—can achieve at high levels when we provide them with the right opportunities.
The Education Trust analyzes the data to understand the patterns of achievement for all groups of students. We expose gaps in opportunity that lead directly to gaps in achievement. And we work hard to identify and learn from those places that are leading the way in providing all young people with the education they need and deserve.