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Student Achievement

The gap in achievement that separates economically disadvantaged students and students of color from less disadvantaged students has been the focus of discussion, research and controversy for nearly 40 years. While the gap narrowed considerably through the late 1980s, particularly between blacks and whites, progress since then has been marginal and below-par achievement of minority students remains one of the most pressing problems in education.

Today, the average black or Hispanic high school student currently achieves at about the same level as the average white student in the lowest quartile of white achievement. Black and Hispanic students are much more likely than white students to fall behind in school and drop out, and much less likely to graduate from high school, acquire a college or advanced degree, or earn a middle-class living.

Research has identified a variety of factors that appear related to the achievement gap students' racial and/or economic background, their parents' education level, their access to high-quality preschool instruction, school funding, peer influences, teachers' expectations, and curricular and instructional quality.

This Issue Site provides readings, research summaries and statistical information on the causes and effects of the achievement gap. It also offers a look at some of the strategies and reforms that states, districts, schools, philanthropic organizations and others are using to help boost the achievement of ethnic and racial minority students.


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