When we discuss achievement gaps, it is hard not to dwell on the negative. Put simply, we struggle as a nation to provide an equitable education for all students. We find solace in incremental gains, even if white or wealthy students are gaining faster than their minority or low-income peers.
Some will maintain the gaps are just figments of our imaginations, and that our students have never achieved as much, academically, as they do today. But tell that to a poor Black student in the South, or a Latino student in South Central. There, the achievement gaps are very real. And they are more than just statistics. They are walls preventing far too many students from succeeding, both in school and life.
As much as we may talk about the problems, when it comes to
education reform, we really focus on the solutions. Yes, it is important we understand the
achievement gaps and appreciate the enormity of the problem. But being aware isn’t nearly enough. We also need to identify a path for
eliminating those gaps, for providing hope and opportunity to the many kids
that have long been denied both.
To forward that discussion, today the Connecticut Coalition
for Achievement Now (ConnCAN) released an exciting new report – The Roadmap to Closing the Gap: 2012-2020. In the Roadmap, ConnCAN
explores what is necessary to close the achievement gaps in Connecticut, the
state with the largest such gaps in the nation, by the year 2020.
In this report, ConnCAN moves away from abstract percentages
and depressing statistics. And instead
identified – using a student-centered
approach – a path for closing the gaps.
As a state, Connecticut needs to add just 2.8 points a year
to its average SAT score over the next eight years to get to the magical 1,550
level. The Nutmeg State needs to
graduate just 456 more students a year to hit a statewide graduation rate of 90
percent. And to move student performance
from the current 65.5 percent at goal to 80 percent, we need to move just 719
kids per grade statewide to goal or better.
In each of the state’s 30 lowest-performing districts, how
many kids need to get to “goal” on the state tests? How many more students in
each of these districts need to graduate from high school? How many more points
must we add to the average SAT score to ensure every student in each of these
districts is college ready?
The answers to these questions may surprise you. Despite the enormity of our deficiencies, we can close the gaps in less than a
The Roadmap breaks
down the achievement challenges in each of these 30 districts (known as
“Alliance Districts”), showing what those cities and towns must do to ensure
that we can get 80 percent of our students performing on grade level; we can
achieve a 90-percent graduation rate; and we can get our average SAT score up
New Haven can raise its four-year graduation rate from the
current 62.5 percent to 90 percent by graduating 54 more kids a year between
now and 2020. In Hartford, students can
boost their average composite SAT score from a current 1,194 to the
college-ready measure of 1,550 by adding 44.5 points a year. And in Bridgeport, where just 31.8 percent of
students are performing on grade level, we can boost that to 80 percent by
moving 82 students per grade per year to goal or above on state measures.
Yes, these are significant goals, and the seriousness of
achieving them should not be underestimated.
It is possible, it is doable, and it is necessary. But for it to happen, we have to act, and we
have to act now.
The Roadmap is a
call to action, a map to demonstrate that meaningful education reform is both
possible and achievable in the next decade.
This report won’t take Connecticut all the way to where public education
needs to be, but it provides an important and clear starting point.
Connecticut’s path to reform has just begun. The Roadmap
tells which direction to go. And it
serves as a model for how other states can join in the journey.