Achievement Gap in Schools Persists

Dick Kaukas, Courier-Journal (Louisville), Sept. 20

Indiana schools have failed to substantially narrow the achievement gap that separates low-income students from their more affluent counterparts, a new study has found.

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The gaps separating these students from others, he said, “grow over time so the longer these kids are in our education system, the farther behind they fall.”

The report says that “by high school, the average African-American and Hispanic senior is four years behind.”

In analyzing ISTEP scores, for example, the report found that last year the percentage of low-income third-grade students who passed both the English and math tests lagged 24 points behind all other students. That gap has remained relatively stable since 2001.

By grade 10, the gap had widened to about 30 percentage points—and remained virtually the same between 2001 and 2004.

Besides detailing the scope of the problem, the report also recommends 10 steps for state officials to consider to address it.

Among other things, it urges Gov. Mitch Daniels and Suellen Reed, the superintendent of public instruction, to work with the state school board and Indiana’s Education Roundtable to find policies to narrow the gaps “everywhere they exist.”

Reed said in an interview yesterday that the agenda for the next roundtable meeting later this month already includes the achievement gap and the issue of high-school dropouts.

The report, she said, does “a good job” of describing Indiana’s progress and where the state needs to go.

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