The U.S. Department of Education describes the achievement gap as “the difference in academic performance between different ethnic groups.” Though this is a concise and useful definition, the achievement gap is, in fact, a multifaceted problem that requires examination from multiple perspectives.
From the standpoint of federal expectations, the No Child Left Behind Act requires schools, districts, and state educational systems to meet annual targets for improvement in identified academic areas, including mathematics—not only for their student populations as a whole, but for each of several identified subgroups: African American, Hispanic, White, economically disadvantaged, special education, and limited English proficiency (LEP). In other words, schools, districts, and states are ultimately accountable if the achievement rate of any of these subgroups of students falls behind. In light of annually increasingly targets, shifting demographics, and the upcoming addition of science targets, more schools and districts are at risk than many people realize.
“The difference between a child’s potential and his/her actual achievement.”
“The acceptance of mediocrity in expectations, values, and people.”
“The unacceptable difference in achievement … and academic resources.”
While education goals often appear to center around meeting accountability standards, these definitions reveal that many educators harbor an underlying passion for helping students realize their full potential as individuals, not simply passing a test.
The Business Community
“It has been proven that parent involvement transcends many of the barriers that contribute to the achievement gap, such as socio-economic status, ethnic/racial background, and the parents' level of education."
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