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achievement gap

flickr user biologycorner

We’ve talked a lot on State of Opportunity about racial achievement gaps - how the average test score for black, Hispanic or Native American kids isn’t as high as the average test score for a white or Asian student.

Now we want to talk about what the real world implications of those gaps might be. We tried to tackle the question by asking: What would the world look like if racial achievement gaps suddenly disappeared?

"There are two possible answers to that question," says Derek Neal, an economist at the University of Chicago. His research is focused on black-white inequality, and he’s studied how test scores play into that.

Integrated Classroom
By Leffler, Warren K., photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Last weekend, This American Life ran a powerful, heart-wrenching story of how segregation continues to haunt the American education system. If you haven't yet heard it, you should definitely make some time to listen. TAL billed it as the first of two stories they have on the topic. So, while I was sitting around waiting for the second part to come out, I decided to dive a little deeper into some of the research behind last week's story. 

Our friends at WBEZ partnered with the daily herald for an analysis of 10 years' worth of Illinois elementary school test score data. What they found is a relentless, strong correlation between test scores and parent income. Schools with the most students living in poverty had the lowest test scores, and vice versa. The correlation between test scores and parental income held for every income group, and it remained very consistent over time. Click through to see the graphs.

flickr.com/jeremywilburn

Last October, the Harvard Business Review published an essay on Hacking Tech's Diversity Problem.

user Frank Juarez / flickr

We've talked about it before, but it's worth repeating: There is a major gap in the way we discipline children in schools.

This New York Times piece highlights not only the race gap but the gender gap as well, citing federal data that shows "black girls in public elementary and secondary schools nationwide were suspended at a rate of 12 percent, compared with a rate of just 2 percent for white girls, and more than girls of any other race or ethnicity" from 2011 to 2012.

Oh but it doesn't end there. Keep reading.

Jenny Downing / Flickr

State of Opportunity will air a documentary on foster care on Thursday, October 30. In the lead-up to Thursday, we're publishing a series of articles that explore specific aspects of the foster care system, and some of the challenges kids within that system face.

For many young adults who have aged out of the foster care system, myself included, the hardest part isn’t actually being in care.

The hardest part is leaving care.

Greyloch / flickr

There have been a few recent developments that meet at the intersection of the Venn diagram made when State of Opportunity meets government affairs.

What matters is how likely these reforms are to make a difference for kids in Michigan. Here's some early stage analysis. 

Dustin Dwyer

If you follow our work here on State of Opportunity, it will not be news to hear that girls currently outperform boys on most academic measures

A piece published a few days ago over at The Atlantic points out that this isn't just an American phenomenon; girls are doing better than boys in schools all around the world. This disparity has immense consequences for our education system, in part because, as I reported last year in our documentary "Be A Man," gender acts as a multiplying factor for other types of educational achievement gaps. The gaps we see between students based on family income and race are both much worse for males than females. If we want to tackle these achievement gaps, we can't ignore gender. 

So how can we help boys catch up to girls in school? One idea that seems to have a lot of traction lately is just to let boys get away with doing less. 
 

user Andrew Taylor / Flickr

Thousands of children across Michigan will start kindergarten next week, and the truth is many of them won't be prepared to learn. For many low-income children, this will be their first time in a classroom, so they're playing catch-up from the start. From there it's a short hop, skip and jump to a full-blown achievement gap between low-income kids and their more wealthy peers by the time they're in middle school.

Dustin Dwyer

I didn't pay to go to college. In fact, I made a profit from it. My scholarships covered all my expenses, and I had a few hundred bucks left over every semester. 

It was a pretty sweet deal. But I'm pretty sure I ruined it for everyone else. Sorry about that. 

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