Quotes on Education Achievement Gap

"Ability grouping rarely benefits overall achievement, but it can contribute to inequality of achievement, as students in high groups gain and low-group students fall farther behind. The more rigid the tracking system, the more likely these patterns are to emerge."

Adam Gamoran
Education Leadership, Volume 50, Number 2
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
October 1992
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"Based on high standards for all students, high-quality professional development for teachers, safe and disciplined learning environments, and accountability to parents and taxpayers, the Educational Excellence for All Children Act of 1999 provides a solid foundation for raising student achievement and narrowing the achievement gap between disadvantaged students and their more advantaged peers. More important, it will help prepare all of our children, and thus the Nation, for the challenges of the 21st century. I urge the Congress to take prompt and favorable action on this proposal."

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"The first step to closing that gap is to believe, as I do, that high expectations are for all students. I believe intelligence is equally distributed throughout the world, but opportunity is not. And the same is true within our own country."

President William J. Clinton
The American Presidency Project
June 15, 2000
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"We know that the achievement levels can be raised. The question is whether we have the will to do what we know works. If we're going to set high expectations of students, we must have high expectations of ourselves to do what it takes to make sure all of our students can make the grade.

We know that we can make college more accessible. That's what the HOPE scholarships do, the Direct Student Loan Program, the lifetime learning tax credit. But I think we ought to do more. I have got a proposal before Congress to give up to $10,000 of tuition tax-deductible status every year and to do it at a 28 percent income tax rate, even for people in the 15 percent income tax bracket, which is a very, very important proposal. And it could make it possible for even more of our young people to go to college and for more of our families to afford it.

So today, we know what we have to do, and we know we can do it. And what I think is always helpful is to translate what we wish to do into specific goals. So I think we ought to adopt five specific goals to close the Hispanic student achievement gap over the next 10 years."

President William J. Clinton
The American Presidency Project
June 15, 2000
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"Would getting rid of tracking help? It's doubtful. The best research has found that tracking has no significant effect on achievement. As James A. Kulik of the University of Michigan has demonstrated, the best results come when curriculum is tailored to different levels, targeting the academic deficiencies of low-performing students and allowing high performers to accelerate to a level at which they're challenged."

Tom Loveless
The Washington Post
October 22, 2000
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"For those who are interested in schools that produce academic success for minority students, there is no lack of examples, past and present. Tragically, there is a lack of interest by the public school establishment in such examples. Again, I think this goes back to the politics of education.

Put bluntly, failure attracts more money than success. Politically, failure becomes a reason to demand more money, smaller classes, and more trendy courses and programs, ranging from 'black English' to bilingualism and 'self-esteem.' Politicians who want to look compassionate and concerned know that voting money for such projects accomplishes that purpose for them and voting against such programs risks charges of mean-spiritedness, if not implications of racism."

Thomas Sowell
Hoover Institution
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"On the basis of our analysis of achievement levels reached by children who participated in Title I programs, we conclude that the program has not produced systematic, significant improvements in achievement. That is, children who received services funded by Title I did not generally perform significantly better in achievement tests than children who did not."

Marvin H. Kosters
Brent D. Mast
AEI Press
May 2003
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"[L]et aspiring teachers skip the schools of education that some say actively promote mediocrity and incompetence. Allow multiple routes into the profession, and reward excellent teachers with higher pay and more responsibility. Pay more to lure those with rare skills, such as good math and science teachers. And pay more to outstanding teachers willing to work in schools with high concentrations of disadvantaged students."

Abigail Thernstrom
The Portland Tribune
March 2, 2004
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"Almost all excellent schools teaching highly disadvantaged kids look very much alike - and quite different from most regular public schools. ...

In addition to an academically superb program, they demand that their students learn how to speak standard English. They also insist that kids show up on time, properly dressed; that they sit up straight at their desks, chairs pulled in, workbooks organized; that they never waste a minute in which they could be learning and always finish their homework; that they look at people to whom they are talking, listen to teachers with respect, treat classmates with equal civility, and shake hands with visitors to the school. ...

But such schools cannot be created within the normal structure of public education. It is no accident that those I came to admire were all charter schools; their principals needed the authority and autonomy to shape a distinctive education. And such schools cannot function unless teachers and families have chosen to be there - with the understanding that they will be asked to leave if they choose to reject the discipline and dedication that the principals demand."

Abigail Thernstrom
The Philadelphia Inquirer
June 27, 2004
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"But more importantly than the process of putting reform in place is that we're beginning to see results. If you measure, you get to determine whether or not we're achieving things. Fourth grade math test scores across this Nation went up nine points between the years 2000 and 2003. Eighth graders improved by five points in the same period. In other words, because we measure, I can now stand up and say we're beginning to close an achievement gap in America. We've got reading scores— reading scores for fourth graders increased in the vast majority of States that tested between 1998 and 2003, including Virginia. African American and Hispanic and Native American children are beginning to learn to read. There is a significant achievement gap in America, and that is not right. And we're closing that gap. And you know how we know, is because we measure, because we're willing to devise measurement systems, not at the Federal level but at the State level."

President George W. Bush
The American Presidency Project
January 12, 2005
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"The role of the Federal Government is to serve as a funding source for specific projects and an instigator for accountability systems. The accountability system is, of course, devised by local people. The State of Virginia has devised its own accountability system. I don't believe in a Federal test. I believe a Federal test leads to Federal control, and I believe Federal control of the public school systems leads to failure. And so I believe the Federal Government has an obligation to help in a way that helps local districts and local schools achieve our objectives.

Some of that money ought to be—that I've just announced will go to early intervention programs. Under this plan, high school teachers will analyze eighth grade test data for incoming ninth grade students so that when they see a student at risk of falling behind, the teachers and the parents can get together and design a program to help make sure that child can catch up, before it's too late."

President George W. Bush
The American Presidency Project
January 12, 2005
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"We're making progress, but there's more work to be done. Today, American schools are no longer separate, but they're not yet equal. Too many of our children still face what I have called the soft bigotry of low expectations. With the No Child Left Behind Act, we've raised expectations. We believe every child can learn, and we expect every school to teach. And we measure. And guess what's happening? Test scores are going up. There's an achievement gap for minority children that is closing in America."

President George W. Bush
The American Presidency Project
February 8, 2005
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"The differences in measured skills between blacks and whites are enormous. By age 17, the average black student is performing at around the 20th percentile of the white distribution. This performance feeds directly into further schooling and into the labor market, continuing the cycle of inequality."

Eric A. Hanushek
Steven G. Rivkin
NBER Working Paper, No. 12651
National Bureau of Economic Research
October 2006
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”How important are these social pressures? Although that story has yet to be fully told, in my view, the prevalence of acting white in schools with racially mixed student bodies suggests that social pressures could go a long way toward explaining the large racial and ethnic gaps in SAT scores, the underperformance of minorities in suburban schools, and the lack of adequate representation of blacks and Hispanics in elite colleges and universities."

Roland G. Fryer
Education Next
The Hoover Institution
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"[…] the effect of acting white on popularity appears to be twice as large in the more-integrated (racially mixed) schools as in the less-integrated ones."

Roland G. Fryer
Education Next
The Hoover Institution
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"Grouping by ability is most prevalent in schools having about half their populations composed of white students. The proportion becomes relatively low both when whites dominate and when they make up a low percentage of students. This observation is consistent with those that claim tracking is de facto racial segregation."

Peter G. VanderHart
The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Volume 65, Number 2
Blackwell Publishing
April 2006
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"Reading problems, in turn, are at the core of the black-white achievement gap. Reading is the motor of all education—the basic skill that leads to all other academic skills. Disadvantaged kids who can’t read adequately by fourth grade aren’t as likely to understand math problems, science and social studies texts, computer manuals, or much else. They’re almost doomed to falling further and further behind in their later school years. At that point, remediation is probably too late."

Sol Stern
City Journal, Vol. 18
The Manhattan Institute
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"Unfortunately the evidence consistently shows that judicial involvement in school spending has yielded no improvements in student outcomes.  Judges appear to have no special wisdom or advantage over their elected colleagues in legislatures or on school boards in identifying the circumstances and manner in which additional spending would produce better education."

Jay P. Greene
Julie R. Trivitt
Peabody Journal of Education, Volume 83, Issue 2
April 2008
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"For decades, we have poured money into schooling while seeing few obvious benefits. Current per-pupil spending in constant dollars more than tripled between 1961-62 and 2003-04, from $2,603 to $8,886. Pupil-to-teacher ratios plunged, from 25.1 students per teacher in 1965 to 15.3 per teacher in 2007. Meanwhile, educational progress has been disappointing, at best, over the past quarter-century. This is the epitome of pushing on a string. In an economy marked by new technologies, labor-saving devices, steady growth in productivity, and an evolving labor pool, we are hiring and deploying educators just the way we did a half-century ago. The result is that new investments have not delivered the hoped-for results.

Ultimately, no one should be surprised that arrangements which have haphazardly taken shape over two centuries are ill-equipped to address the challenges or fully exploit the opportunities of the 21st century."

Frederick M. Hess
Cato Unbound
Cato Institute
April 14, 2008
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"But if 'the poor shall always be with us,' so too will low test scores and other aspects of disadvantaged students’ inadequate achievement. It is unreasonable and irresponsible to expect schools and teachers to overcome social class differences while exempting every other institution and public official from taking action to do so."

Richard Rothstein
Cato Unbound
Cato Institute
April 22, 2008
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"The wide variation in performance among schools serving similar students suggests that these gaps can be closed. Race and poverty are not destiny."

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"[…] the relatively low performance of Latino students, who in less than a generation will comprise roughly three in ten American children, is an urgent issue. The nation’s economic and social well-being will be compromised without efforts at all levels of government to develop policies to increase achievement for Latino young people."

Nancy Kober
et al.
Student Achievement Policy Brief, #3
Center on Education Policy
June 30, 2010
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"Many of the factors that seem to have a bearing on high achievement for Asian students relate to home environments and social structures outside of school. For example, many Asian American parents set high expectations for their children’s education, as evidenced by such activities as monitoring their children’s school performance, obtaining information about school curriculum and college requirements, encouraging participation in out of school learning activities, and holding their children responsible for their own learning. This may reflect the fact that many Asian immigrant parents were often very motivated to come to the U.S. and made sacrifices to provide their children with better educational and economic opportunities. Perhaps mirroring the values of their parents, many Asian American students are themselves strongly motivated and put considerable effort into schoolwork. Asian Americans spend a greater than average time on school assignments and engage in helpful study habits, such as forming study groups."

Nancy Kober
et al.
Student Achievement Policy Brief, #2
Center on Education Policy
June 30, 2010
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"It is remarkable that these schools have been able to maintain their uncompromising meritocracy. In the 1970s, New York’s quintessentially liberal mayor, John Lindsay, tried to get their admissions policy changed by claiming that the entrance test was 'culturally biased.' (All the schools, Hunter excepted, use the same eighth-grade exam.) But parents at the schools pushed back and successfully petitioned the state legislature to preserve the test as the sole basis for admission by writing it into New York’s education law. Periodically since then, advocacy groups (including Acorn) have made similar charges that the admissions tests are biased and should be scrapped.

The specialized high schools, though, have repaid the city, state, and nation time and again by turning out thousands of extraordinarily talented graduates, some of whom have gone on to make great contributions in science, engineering, medicine, and the law."

Sol Stern
City Journal, Vol. 21
The Manhattan Institute
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"Such sentiments are admirable, and helping the lowest-achieving students do better is of course a worthy and important aim. But the effort to close gaps has hardly been an unmitigated blessing. In their glib self-confidence, the champions of that effort have refused to confront its costs and unintended consequences, and have been far too quick to silence skeptics by branding them blind defenders of the status quo (if not calling them outright racists).

The truth is that achievement-gap mania has led to education policy that has shortchanged many children. It has narrowed the scope of schooling. It has hollowed out public support for school reform. It has stifled educational innovation. It has distorted the way we approach educational choice, accountability, and reform.

And its animating principles — including its moral philosophy — are, at best, highly questionable. Indeed, the relentless focus on gap-closing has transformed school reform into little more than a less objectionable rehash of the failed Great Society playbook."

Frederick M. Hess
National Affairs, Issue 9
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"There can be unfortunate, if often unacknowledged, consequences when we seek to universalize excellence. Such efforts can dilute instructional quality, make it tougher for teachers to go as deep or as fast as they otherwise might, and distract attention from advanced students. Given these mixed results, how did the gap-closing gospel become the organizing principle of American schooling?"

Frederick M. Hess
National Affairs, Issue 9
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"[I]n a terrible irony, achievement-gap mania has indirectly made it more difficult for reformers to promote integrated schools. Philanthropic foundations that support education causes are interested in serving as many poor and minority children as possible; when 30% to 40% of a student body is made up of white or affluent students, the school is deemed suspect, as reform-minded foundations see such programs as 'wasting' a third of their seats. Bragging rights go to charter schools or programs that have the highest-octane mix of poor and minority kids. The upshot is that it is terribly difficult to generate interest in nurturing racially or socioeconomically integrated schools, even though just about every observer thinks that more such schools would be good for kids, communities, and the country."

Frederick M. Hess
National Affairs, Issue 9
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"And I want to say that the goals behind No Child Left Behind were admirable, and President Bush deserves credit for that. Higher standards are the right goal. Accountability is the right goal. Closing the achievement gap is the right goal. And we've got to stay focused on those goals. But experience has taught us that in its implementation No Child Left Behind had some serious flaws that are hurting our children instead of helping them. Teachers too often are being forced to teach to the test. Subjects like history and science have been squeezed out. And in order to avoid having their schools labeled as failures, some States, perversely, have actually had to lower their standards in a race to the bottom instead of a race to the top. They don't want to get penalized? Let's make sure that the standards are so low that we're not going to be seen failing to meet them. That makes no sense."

President Barack Obama
The American Presidency Project
September 13, 2011
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"Today, lots of folks—including school board members, superintendents and state official—insist we can't narrow the achievement gap without boatloads of new money. Some say that if poor, minority children are to learn, they must be bused far from home to sit next to kids whose skin color or income bracket is different. Few talk much about teaching kids the vital importance of hard work, self-discipline, rejecting victimhood and taking responsibility for their own success."

Katherine Kersten
Center of the American Experiment
September 25, 2011
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"How does indoctrination like this help children who struggle to master phonics and the multiplication tables? How does the notion that black children are 'emotional' and prone to 'rolling of the eyes,' while white children are 'intellectual' and good at 'quantitative thinking,' support minority children in ways that will reduce the learning gap?

The tragedy is that schools that embrace such ideological nonsense are harming the very students who most need our help."

Katherine Kersten
Star Tribune
Center of the American Experiment
March 11, 2012
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Commentary or Blog Post

The following collection of data breaks down 4th and 8th grade math scores by state, comparing the performance of poor students to non-poor students. Minnesota's results are highlighted.

The learning gap is caused by socioeconomic and family risk factors that often leave children deficient in the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in school.

Stern argues that New York City's approach to the racial achievement gap has been a series of failed experiments, rather than traditional models for making sure young children can read. The basic skill of reading leads to all other academic skills.

Along with others, I very much hope Generation Next accomplishes at least a portion of its quest -- which includes having all kids in Minneapolis and St. Paul graduating high school on time and then obtaining a post-secondary degree or certificate no more than a half-dozen years later.

Minnesota's Black-White achievement gap extends well beyond the state's high schools into its post-secondary schools, a 2010 report shows.

"As policymakers over the past decade focused on closing the achievement gap between white students and underrepresented minorities, another rift was widening: the gap between Asian American students and everyone else.

A new study from the Center on Education Policy underscores how significantly Asian American students outpace their peers, particularly in Maryland and Virginia."

The article argues that "if racial equality is America's goal, reducing the black-white test score gap would probably do more to promote this goal than any other strategy that could command broad political support. Reducing the test score gap is probably both necessary and sufficient for substantially reducing racial inequality in educational attainment and...

"Asian-Americans, a small but fast-growing demographic, today hold a purchasing power of $718 billion, surging toward $1 trillion in just five years, a recent Nielsen report has found."

"The fastest-growing U.S. demographic group is highly educated, relatively affluent and, politically, increasingly Democratic."

"A north Minneapolis school at Olson Memorial Hwy. and Humboldt Avenue has demographics that seem a sure predictor of our state's most intractable education problem. The student population there is 99 percent black and 91 percent poor, and about 70 percent of the children come from single-parent families.

Such 'racial isolation' is widely considered a formula for defeat—a hallmark of...

"What needs to be done to improve black education? Whether it's civil rights organizations, politicians or the education establishment, you'll get answers that cover the gamut from more money for teachers and smaller class sizes to school desegregation and racial preferences in higher education. Despite these claims, there's no evidence whatsoever that these are...

In an experiment aimed to raise achievement in America's public schools, 11 school districts across five states -- Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee -- will be extending their class time learning by at least 300 hours, starting in 2013.

"[Bill] Cosby went where most educators would not even dream of going. They are terrified of demanding what are misleadingly called white, middle-class skills and values. But if we are to close the racial gap - if we truly want to leave no child behind - we will need to pull black and Latino kids into the norms of mainstream American society. With courage and...

For at least the past decade, there has been more than enough attention focused on Minnesota's student achievement gap.

Two decades, five factors. Two decades have passed since Barton wrote 'America's Smallest School: The Family.' He has estimated that about 90 percent of the difference in schools' proficiencies can be explained by five factors.

"Last year, when Minnesota asked for a federal waiver from compliance with No Child Left Behind’s failed accountability system, Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius instead proposed instituting a system designed by the department. The Multiple Measurements Rating (MMR) [PDF] is a combination of scores quantifying proficiency, student growth, progress toward closing the achievement gap and...

"My current commentary piece over at Mackinac compares the black/white achievement gap across subjects and grades between the public and private sectors."

"[I]t is fanciful to think that if only they had better teachers, children will have high rates of success despite poor health including more frequent illness, more frequent iron deficiency anemia, lead poisoning, and asthma; greater family economic stress, including inadequate housing resulting in high rates of mobility, and living in unsafe neighborhoods with...

"The study is important because it's the first large-scale look at the college completion rate for students in schools at the leading edge of today's reform efforts. The results show that while KIPP graduates—who are 95 percent African-American and Latino and overwhelmingly low-income—far outpace the national averages for similar students, they also fall short of the network's own goals: 33...

Since the publication of the English edition in 1970, Pedagogy of the Oppressed has achieved near-iconic status in America’s teacher-training programs. In 2003, David Steiner and Susan Rozen published a study examining the curricula of 16 schools of education—14 of them among the top-ranked institutions in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report—and found that ...

"Many do-gooders and race hustlers insist that the black-white achievement gap in the US today is the product of racism.  But how do you explain black students' stellar performance during Jim Crow?"

In her critique, Eaton fails to respond to—or even acknowledge—my 125-page report’s central arguments about the racial achievement gap in Minnesota schools and the flawed solutions proposed by four prominent state education organizations.

In light of these facts, Minnesotans may be astonished to learn that many of our state's school administrators have embraced the extraordinary notion that white teachers are primarily to blame for the racial learning gap.

"Would getting rid of tracking help? It's doubtful. The best research has found that tracking has no significant effect on achievement. As James A. Kulik of the University of Michigan has demonstrated, the best results come when curriculum is tailored to different levels, targeting the academic deficiencies of low-performing students and...

"Decades of research shows that kids with reading problems need phonics-based instruction. Why aren’t educators listening?"

"Flynn brought world attention to the intriguing fact that IQ test scores rose steadily and rather dramatically throughout much of the Twentieth Century, at least in those countries for which we have good data. Years back, he interpreted such inexplicable increases as evidence that IQ tests must surely be flawed. Now he seems to accept unquestioningly their power...

Reading and test scores among Minnesota students remain relatively flat over previous years, according to data released today by the state Department of Education.

"Elementary and middle schools across Minnesota saw a sharp dip in scores on the statewide math tests this year, a drop that educators chalk up to a tougher exam that students took for the first time.

Schools got better news from the reading tests, where student performance improved slightly."

"Why aren't African-Americans achieving all that they could? American blacks are twice as likely to be in poverty as non-blacks, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and they make nearly $5,000 a year less, on average. What exactly is standing in their way? That's not an easy question, but some compelling and controversial answers are coming from an unexpected...

"Achievement gaps between black and white high school students are discouraging but all too common facts of education life. It's well known that black students are less likely than their white peers to graduate from high school, and score lower on tests like the SAT and the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP). Far less attention has been paid to gaps...

"Making matters worse is mounting evidence that America’s best students—kids we’re counting on to become those engineers, scientists, and mathematicians—have had a drop-off in academic performance over the past decade. A recent Thomas B. Fordham Institute study finds that the country’s highest-performing students in the early grades are losing some of that advantage as they move through...

"[T]he Departments of Education and Justice have launched a campaign against disproportionate minority discipline rates, which show up in virtually every school district with significant numbers of black and Hispanic students. The possibility that students’ behavior, not educators’ racism, drives those rates lies outside the Obama administration’s conceptual universe. But the country will pay...

This year, one-in-four public elementary school students is Latino, an indication that the young Latino population is growing quickly.

"To my mind, the key lesson and great shortcoming of A Nation at Risk was the understandable but unfortunate ease with which the commission accepted as a given the familiar institutions and practices of K-12 schooling.

Rather than ask why teacher colleges should hold a monopoly on teacher preparation, why technological...

Chart or Graph

"In the 2008-09 school year, African American students in Minneapolis failed to achieve high reading growth."

In the 2008-09 school year, white students in Minneapolis achieved high reading growth. The same year shows a different result for their African American counterparts.

This chart demonstrates the MCA-II reading proficiency gap between White and Hispanic students in various Minnesota school districts.

This chart demonstrates the MCA-II/MTELL math proficiency gap between White and Hispanic students in various Minnesota school districts. For Minneapolis, the proficiency gap is nearly 50%.

This chart demonstrates the MCA-II reading proficiency gap between White and African American students in various Minnesota school districts. For Minneapolis, the proficiency gap is over 50%.

"Average ACT Composite scores for American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian American/Pacific Islander, and White graduates increased between 2006 and 2010."

"[T]he gap between students from rich and poor families is much more pronounced in the United States than in other OECD nations."

This chart shows the dramatic achievement gap between the various ethnicities in the Minneapolis Public Schools.

In 2011, Caucasian students achieved an 89.8 proficiency rate on reading, while African American students achieved a 54 proficiency rate.

Black-White Mathematics Achievement Gap by State, Grade 4

In 35 states, both Black students and White students achieved higher average scores in mathematics from 1992 to 2007.

Black-White Reading Achievement Gap by State, Grade 4

Nine states had a Black-White [reading] gap that was smaller than the nation’s 26-point gap in 2007.

"Comparing Figure 4 with the federal spending per pupil trend shown in Figure 2, there seems to be little support for the hypothesis that federal efforts have narrowed the black/white reading gap."

In 2012, 84% of Americans believed the achievement gap could be closed while maintaining high standards for all children.

"Between 1998 and 2002, the average score for black students increased by 12 points from 192 to 204. In Florida, it increased by 25 points—twice the gains of the national average."

In order to compare how the various student subgroups performed in 2009, we calculated the median percentages across all states with sufficient data of 8th grade students in each subgroup reaching the three achievement levels.

In 2012, 87% of those surveyed said it was very/somewhat important to close the achievement gap.

In 2012, 97% of Americans said it was important to improve the nation's urban schools.

KIPP students start and finish college at higher rates than the U.S. average. But we are far from our goal.

"Released in January 2006 by the American Institutes for Research, the study assessed the literacy of 1,827 graduating seniors from 80 randomly-selected 2- and 4-year colleges and universities."

"Percentage of 3rd grade students that meet or exceed proficiency on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA-II) reading exam..., given in the spring."

This chart graphs some of the education disparities that children and parents experience in the city of Minneapolis.

"These [Minneapolis] graduation rates show what percentage of students who began 9th grade stayed on track and earned a diploma four years later. ..."

Math and Reading proficiency gaps between various racial backgrounds in the Minneapolis school district.

"The Minneapolis Beginning of Kindergarten Assessment is a 15-minute standardized assessment of reading and numerical skills administered in the fall of each year with all incoming kindergarteners.

"Figure 1 above demonstrates that busing for racial balance in Minneapolis did not reduce the achievement gap in the 14 years between 1982 and 1996."

In 2011, every demographic category in the Minneapolis school district except for White students failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in math and reading.

Between the 2006-07 and the 2008-09 school year, Minneapolis Asian and White student math progress decreased.

Number of public high school-level teachers who reported a particular main assignment and the percentage with a major and certification in that main assignment, by subject of main assignment: 2007–08

The chart visually breaks-down graduation rates between the top bottom U.S. income quartiles. Only 8% of students in the bottom 25% graduate from a 4-year college by age 24.

"Graduates from most racial/ethnic groups were most likely to meet the English Benchmark, followed in order by the Reading, Mathematics, and Science Benchmarks."

This chart divides Minneapolis kindergarteners by race in order to depict their total literacy after their first year of school.

According to this chart, the achievement gap in terms of reading proficiency between white and minority students in Minneapolis public schools is at least 30 percentage points.

"The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a respected international comparison of 15-year-olds by the OECD that measures 'real-world' (applied) learning and problem-solving ability."

Figure 1, which plots the underlying relationship between popularity and achievement, shows large differences among whites, blacks, and Hispanics.

"[F]igure 1 shows that difference in graduation rates between African American males and White males may predict future outcomes like employment status. These policies should be derived from a framework that is (1) data-driven, (2) innovative, (3) and produces sustainable outcomes."

Since the National Assessment of Educational Progress began measuring student performance in 1971, reading scores have remained persistently flat--despite massive increases in educational spending and lower teacher-student ratios.

"[T]he research base for the Obama administration’s claim that minority students receive harsher punishment than whites for 'the same or similar infractions' is laughably weak."

"The overall improvement in mathematics for 9-year-olds was also seen in the results for both male and female students."

"The overall improvement in reading for 9-year-olds was also seen in the results for both male and female students."

"At age 9, the average mathematics score increased from 2004 to 2008 for White students but showed no significant change for Black students."

Trend in White - Black NAEP reading average scores and score gaps for 9, 13 and 17-year-old students

Trend in White - Hispanic NAEP mathematics average scores and score gaps for 9, 13 and 17-year-old students

Trend in White - Hispanic NAEP reading average scores and score gaps for 9, 13 and 17-year-old students

In 2012, 62% of those surveyed said they'd be willing to pay more in taxes to improve the nation's urban schools, down slightly from 66% in 1998.

Analysis Report White Paper

One out of every six public school students in the U.S. is African American. The achievement of African American students as a group will have a significant impact on the nation’s economic strength and social well-being. This brief looks at the performance of African American students on state reading and mathematics tests.

"I can also be precise about what I mean by acting white: a set of social interactions in which minority adolescents who get good grades in school enjoy less social popularity than white students who do well academically. My analysis confirms that acting white is a vexing reality within a subset of American schools."

"This report updates the May 2012 report on AYP Results for 2010-11 to include AYP data from the Consolidated State Performance Reports from the U.S. Department of Education. Several numbers have changed as a result of the new data. The estimated percentage of all public schools in the nation that did not make AYP for 2011 was 48%, an all-time high and an increase from 39% in 2010. The report...

The adoption of the Common Core State Standards by nearly all the states, combined with tough literacy assessments that are now in the offing, will soon reveal that literacy skills of average students fall below international standards and that the gap in literacy skills between students from advantaged and disadvantaged families is huge.

"This article empirically estimates the effect of judicial intervention on student achievement using standardized test scores and graduation rates in 48 states from 1992 to 2005. We find no evidence that court-ordered school spending improves student achievement."

This study begins by identifying a variety of other gender differences. There is a small but significant difference in the course grades of males and females. Males and females have significantly different prior understandings of physics and mathematics. Females are less likely to take high school physics than males, although they are equally likely to take high school calculus.

"The authors conclude that Title I has failed to produce any significant increase in test scores or to narrow achievement gaps between the scores of low- and high-income students and schools."

An education gap between white students and their black and Hispanic peers is something to which most Americans have become accustomed. But this racial division of education—and hence of prospects for the future— is nothing less than tragic. The good news is that the racial divide in learning is a problem that can be fixed.

"Understanding peer effects is critical to evaluating the effect of public school segregation on the achievement gap. This paper develops a new approach to identifying the effect of peer behavior on achievement, using a framework that integrates previously unexplored types of heterogeneity in peer spillovers."

This new American Experiment symposium grows out of a book of mine, From Family Collapse to America’s Decline: The Educational, Economic, and Social Costs of Family Fragmentation, which examined many of the problems and shortcomings resulting from very high rates of nonmarital births, very high rates of divorce, and routinely short-lived cohabiting relationships.

This brief explores the pitfalls in gauging gaps simplistically and suggests four ways to gain a more sophisticated, comprehensive, and accurate picture. It then illustrates these approaches using data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) to show how some states are making progress in closing gaps—and others are not.

"This study compares graduation rates of students in Milwaukee who use vouchers to attend private high schools with those who attend public high schools."

"No matter how well teachers are prepared to teach, no matter what accountability measures are put in place, no matter what governing structures are established for schools, educational progress will be profoundly limited if students are not motivated and able to learn."

"This paper describes characteristics and academic policies of three low income elementary schools in the Los Angeles area whose students are unusually successful in mathematics. Barriers to high achievement in mathematics that exist for a large number of schools in Los Angeles are also identified and discussed."

Results from the 44th annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools show that Americans have a number of conflicting and hardening viewpoints in their appraisal of and preferences for directing, managing, and investing in the schools

"The fast-growing Latino student population will shape the nation’s future, so it is critical that these students are well-prepared for college, careers, and civic participation. This brief looks at the performance of Latino students on state reading and mathematics tests and considers the policy implications of achievement trends for this group."

We examine charter schools across the quality spectrum in order to learn which practices separate high-achieving from low-achieving schools. An expansive data collection and analysis project in New York City charter schools yielded an index of five educational practices that explains nearly half of the difference between high- and low-performing schools.

"Lost Opportunity is … galvanizing call for philanthropic partners, our grantees, and grassroots, grasstops and netroots advocates to organize to build a public will movement to strengthen our democracy, economy, communities and become better global citizens by guaranteeing that all students have a fair and substantive opportunity to learn."

As the landscape changes in the state and in the nation, there is a need to be proactive in supporting policies and initiatives that aim to erase the educational achievement gap that exists between African American males and the broader population.

This piece offers a collection of graphs which show the 2008-2010 achievement gaps for various districts around the state of Minnesota. The Minneapolis school district often stands out from the rest of the districts, unfortunately for undesirable reasons.

"The estimates strongly indicate that a higher percentage of black schoolmates reduces achievement for blacks, while it implies a much smaller and generally insignificant effect on whites. These results suggest that existing levels of segregation in Texas explain a small but meaningful portion of the racial achievement gap."

"This baseline data report is designed to be used by The Minneapolis Foundation staff as well as board members, community leaders, and policy makers to learn more about the areas of education, economic vitality, and social capital for the city of Minneapolis, based upon key indicators."

Our national obsession with the achievement gap has led to rhetoric and platitudes but also a compromising rigor and educational standards. Many so-called reforms are counterproductive and ignore real costs and consequences.

"Minnesota’s continued democratic vitality and economic health will depend in large measure on our ability to put in place education reforms that will help poor, minority children boost their performance in school."

Asian American students, who comprise almost 5% of public school students in the U.S., are a very diverse group. In the aggregate, Asian Americans often have the highest achievement on state tests among major racial/ethnic subgroups.

"The Follow Through project was the largest, most expensive educational experiment ever conducted. This federal program was originally designed to be a service-oriented project similar to Head Start. However, because of funding cutbacks the emphasis was shifted from service to program evaluation.

This report misrepresents and then criticizes recommendations from the Minnesota Department of Education, a think tank and two independent study groups, each of which recently encouraged particular voluntary efforts to reduce concentrated poverty and achieve racial and socioeconomic integration in schools and housing in Minnesota.

"However, the combination of a public system with a private school market yields the least residential segregation as housing price distortions from the capitalization of the public system generate incentives for middle and high income private school attendees to live with lower income public school attendees."

"The majority of the expansion of the achievement gap with age occurs between rather than within schools, and specific school and peer factors exert a significant effect on the growth in the achievement gap."

The MMEP focuses on "systemic" reasons for Minnesota's achievement gap.

A problem does exist at grade 8 for subgroups of students at the advanced achievement level.

"Grouping and tracking do not increase overall achievements in schools, but they do promote inequity, research suggests. To reduce inequality, we should decrease the use of both practices, and, where ability grouping is retained, improve its use."

"This report discusses trends in the gap between Black and White educational attainment, school achievement, and contextual factors from the beginning of the 20th century to the present time."

"Using ACT test scores and the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, this report provides a snapshot of college readiness of the graduating seniors of the class of 2010 who took the ACT in high school."

The aim of this paper is to provide a common, neutral fact base on each of these achievement gaps and to illustrate their relative magnitude. In addition, we highlight the impact of the United States achievement gap on the overall economy and on individual life outcomes.

"The quest for esoteric methods of trying to educate these children proceeds as if such children had never been successfully educated before, when in fact there are concrete examples, both from history and from our own times, of schools that have been successful in educating children from low-income families and from minority families."

"The gains from Catholic schooling are modest for urban whites and negligible for suburban students. Related analyses suggest that urban minorities benefit greatly from access to Catholic schooling primarily because the public schools available to them are quite poor."

The Promise of College Completion: KIPP’s Early Successes and Challenges reports the college outcomes for our earliest KIPP students. It also examines our early lessons learned in supporting KIPP students through college, and shares the ways we are addressing the challenges of college completion.

"Asian Americans are the highest-income, best-educated and fastest-growing racial group in the United States."

The achievement gap between children from high- and low- income families is roughly 30 to 40 percent larger among children born in 2001 than among those born twenty-five years earlier. In fact, it appears that the income achievement gap has been growing for at least fifty years.

"Results indicate that while more females are participating in Advanced Placement science and mathematics they are not performing to the levels of their male counterparts. This performance gap presents a real obstacle for females as they prepare to enter college and later compete for jobs in these fields after graduation."

"At a time when every hour counts, the dropout rates and educational experiences of female students cannot be ignored. This report therefore focuses on female students who do not complete high school."

"While there have been numerous studies that attempt to measure the effect of ability grouping on students, there have been comparatively few studies that analyze which factors cause schools to decide to group their students."


Paul Peterson discusses the profound importance of reducing achievement gaps in communities like the Twin Cities – where they’re larger than virtually anyplace in the nation. What’s been tried? What needs trying next?

"Ronald F. Ferguson PhD has taught at the Kennedy School since 1983, as well as a participating as a senior research associate at Harvard's Wiener Center for Social Policy Research. He has also taught at MIT, Brandeis, and Brown Universities. Dr. Ferguson's publications cover issues in education policy, youth development programming, community development, economic...

"Leading researchers from Vanderbilt University's Peabody College and other educational thought leaders share real world strategies with educators in hopes of closing the widening chasm that does not permit equitable education for children of various racial, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds."

The racial achievement gap in American schools has significant implications for the US economy and society. This McKinsey forum talks about the costs of an education system that traps groups of Americans in poverty.

The racial achievement gap in American schools has significant implications for the US economy and society. This McKinsey forum talks about the costs of an education system that traps groups of Americans in poverty.

"Donna Ford, professor of special education at Vanderbilt University's Peabody College of Education and Human Development, discusses what is needed to close the achievement gap between white and black students and her research with gifted black youth."

Minnesota is among the worst states when it comes to achievement gaps in our schools. Poor students lag far behind their counterparts, but three grants aim to help change that.

"Governor Mark Dayton announces his appointments to the Early Learning Council and talks about Minnesota's application for federal funds to help close the achievement gap."

"The racial achievement gap in American schools has significant implications for the US economy and society. Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, Joel Klein talks about the costs of an education system that traps groups of Americans in poverty in this McKinsey forum."

"The co-authors discussed their book, No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning, published by Simon and Schuster. The book examines the impact of Title I, Head Start, and other education programs and reforms on minority achievement. According to the authors, many conventional solutions for improving schools, including increasing funding and decreasing...

Think Together, a California non-profit, puts forth a series of alarming statistics in this short video on the impact of the achievement gap.

"Recent Harvard research has revealed that Harlem Children's Zone, an organization that attempts to strengthen education and redirect historically low-achieving minority children from poverty, has had success in reducing the achievement gap. Founder of Harlem Children's Zone Geoffrey Canada explains the success of the program and the possibility for such a program...

Primary Document

One of the most widely cited reports on education reform, "A Nation at Risk" describes the declining academic rates and standards that were prevalent in the early 1980s. "A Nation at Risk" bemoans the fact that...

This piece offers a variety of graphs which chart the racial achievement gaps between students in Minneapolis public schools.

In 2007, mathematics scores for both Black and White public school students in grades 4 and 8 nationwide, as measured by the main NAEP assessments of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), were higher than in any previous assessment, going back to 1990.

President Barack Obama speaks on education reform, funding, and the flaws of No Child Left Behind.

President Clinton calls on Congress to pass the Educational Excellence for All Children Act of 1999 and re-authorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) and other elementary and secondary education programs.

President Clinton speaks on efforts to improve education for Hispanic students. He cites the Hispanic Education Action Plan and calls for doubling funds.

In all probability, "Brown v. Board of Education" is the most well-known Supreme Court case regarding education matters in the twentieth century. This decision abolished segregation in America’s schools by declaring that "Segregation of white and Negro children in the public...

The text of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This bill was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson as part of his "Great Society" legislative program. This law outlawed occupational discrimination and public segregation on the basis of race.

"This report examines the postsecondary majors and teaching certifications of public high school-level teachers of departmentalized classes ... in a selection of subject areas by using data from the 2007–08 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS), a sample survey of elementary and secondary schools in the United States. SASS collects data on American public, private, and Bureau of Indian Education...

"An Act To strengthen and improve educational quality and educational opportunities [H. R. 2362] in the Nation's elementary and secondary schools."

"The Equality of Educational Opportunity Study (EEOS), also known as the 'Coleman Study,' was commissioned by the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in 1966 to assess the availability of equal educational opportunities to children of different race, color, religion, and national origin. This study was conducted in response to provisions of...

"I’m here today to share our ideas about how the Legislature should deal with three education issues in the current session.

One involves steps to immediately address the achievement gap.

The second is a plan for performance reviews of teachers that will make our strong teaching profession even stronger.

And the third is a responsible plan to create alternative pathways...

President George W. Bush acknowledges Black History Month by speaking about culture, education, and strong families.

President George W. Bush gives a speech on raising national educational standards as a follow up to No Child Left Behind.

Governor Pawlenty's 2005 address frames the political conditions in Minnesota and proposes several major state educational reforms, including more school funding and teacher performance compensation.

This report documents the Minneapolis Public School district's Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).

"This report presents the results of the NAEP long-term trend assessments in reading and mathematics, which were most recently given in the 2007–08 school year to students at ages 9, 13, and 17. Nationally representative samples of over 26,000 public and private school students were assessed in each subject area."

Described as "An Act To strengthen the national defense and to encourage and assist in the expansion and improvement of educational programs to meet critical national needs; and for other purposes," this document provided a variety of federal funds for...

No Child Left Behind is a descendant of "The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965." Its opening lines describe it as "An Act [t]o close the achievement gap with accountability, flexibility, and choice, so that no child is left behind."

"On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), historic legislation designed to stimulate the economy, support job creation, and invest in critical sectors, including education. The ARRA lays the foundation for education reform by supporting investments in innovative strategies that are most likely to lead to improved results...

The proposed bill's mission is "[t]o recruit, support, and prepare principals to improve student academic achievement at high-need schools."

There is little to show for the $2 trillion the federal government has spent on education in the past 50 years. Coulson explains a series of graphs that that display stagnant student results and federal spending concerns.



This FAQ provides some background on education in Minnesota, which in turn will help one to understand today's state of education.