Education Trust: Four ways of thinking about achievement gaps
Scott McLeod, J.D., Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Kentucky. He also is the Founding Director of the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE), the nation’s only academic center dedicated to the technology needs of school administrators, and was a co-creator of the wildly popular video series, Did You Know? (Shift Happens). He has received numerous national awards for his technology leadership work, including recognitions from the cable industry, Phi Delta Kappa, and the National School Boards Association. In Spring 2011 he was a Visiting Canterbury Fellow at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Dr. McLeod blogs regularly about technology leadership issues at Dangerously Irrelevant and Mind Dump, and occasionally at The Huffington Post. He can be reached at scottmcleod.net.
The Education Trust has come out with a nifty little report, Gauging the Gaps: A Deeper Look at Student Achievement, that examines different ways of thinking about achievement gaps. Although EdTrust uses NAEP data to illustrate its points, this could be done with any achievement data.
EdTrust outlines four different perspectives when considering achievement gaps. Each has its own merits, but together they have more power than simply using one or two of them in isolation. At the end of the report, EdTrust includes several NAEP data tables that show the progress of each state along each of these perspectives.
Perspective 1: Simple gap narrowing
"Have absolute gaps in mean performance between groups decreased over time? Nationwide, low-income students and students of color perform, on average, below their peers. So it is imperative to evaluate whether we're helping these young people catch up." (p. 2)
Perspective 2: Progress for all
"Have all groups of students gained over time? Our country needs to improve achievement for all students and accelerate gains for those who lag behind. Reading performance for low-income fourth grade students nationwide inched up by four points from 2003 to 2007. This represents movement in the right direction but at far too slow a pace. Some states, however, improved much more rapidly than the nation as a whole." (p. 3)
Perspective 3: Gap size
"What is the current size of the gap between groups? In addition to examining how far a state has come in closing the gaps and looking at whether all students are gaining, it's important to know the extent of the gaps that remain. The current-year size of a state's gap suggests how far we have to go until race and income no longer play a significant role in student achievement. Nationally and in every state, low-income students trail their higher income peers in reading performance. Yet a closer scrutiny of state data shows that some are closer to achieving equitable results than others." (p. 4)
Perspective 4: Group comparisons across jurisdictions
"How does each group of students currently perform compared with their counterparts in other jurisdictions? Although many assume that certain groups of children perform about the same no matter where they attend school, comparisons of group performance across jurisdictions can reveal striking differences. In fact, dramatic variations in the achievement of similar groups of children occur across states or from one district to the next." (p. 4)
What do you think?
How does your school organization think about achievement gaps? Does it predominantly use only one or two of these perspectives? What could be done to increase your organization's capacity to use more or all of these perspectives? Is all of this even worthwhile?
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?
- During the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara began a program called Project 100,000.
- The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
- Project 100,000 recruits were killed in disproportionate numbers and fared worse after their military service than their civilian peers, making the program one of the biggest—and possibly cruelest—mistakes of the Vietnam War.
The 116th Congress is set to break records in term of diversity among its lawmakers, though those changes are coming almost entirely from Democrats.
- Women and nonwhite candidates made record gains in the 2018 midterms.
- In total, almost half of the newly elected Congressional representatives are not white men.
- Those changes come almost entirely from Democrats; Republican members-elect are all white men except for one woman.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.