Helping Students Succeed: Communities Confront the Achievement Gap

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Between 2007 and 2009, more than 3,000 citizens met with their neighbors in community centers, classrooms, churches, and libraries throughout the United States to talk about the issue known as the achievement gap. Participants in the forums discussed three possible options for closing the gap: raising expectations; providing more funding for struggling schools; and addressing root causes, such as poverty and poor health. As they deliberated, the citizens learned a great deal—about their schools and their neighborhoods, about the persistence of subtle racial inequities, about the lives of young people, and about how these factors interact to support or prevent learning. Attitudes about teaching and parenting were questioned and reassessed. The experience of immigrant families, shrouded by language and culture, was brought into focus.

These and other findings are the subjects of this Kettering Foundation report. In the end, the people who participated in forums realized that schools cannot shoulder the entire task of educating the next generation, that the quality of education cannot be measured by test scores alone, and that success for all our children requires something more from all of us.

In addition to this report, the documentary No Textbook Answer: Communities Confront the Achievement Gap takes a closer look at eight communities that participated in these forums.

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