Eight Steps to Narrow the Achievement Gap in American Schools

Education 03.24,10

Michael Wotorson, executive director of the Campaign for High School Equity (CHSE), recently testified before the House Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee to encourage Congress take proactive steps to narrow the achievement gap for students of color in America.

“[I]n order to ensure all students unfettered and equitable access to educational opportunities and to arrest the high school graduation crisis among students of color, we must have a system of education that challenges and supports all students to meet the demands of a college and of the modern workforce,” said Wotorson.

Currently, more than one million students drop out of high school every year, a disproportionate number of whom are minorities.  Wotorson outlined eight solutions that Congress should pursue in order to prepare all students for college and the workforce:

  • Prepare all children for college and work – Classes should be tailored to the modern needs of people preparing to enter college and the workforce in a global economy, and schools should report the availability and patterns of college preparatory class attendance by race and ethnicity.  

  • Hold high schools accountable for student success – Improving data systems and turning current graduation rate guidelines into law would reduce the number of dropouts.

  • Redesign the American high school – States and districts need to provide schools with the means necessary to explore new programs and educational models. 

  • Provide students with excellent leaders and teachers – The federal government should create programs that attract high-quality teachers to high-poverty high schools, as well as incentives that will keep them there. 

  • Get communities invested in student success – Students in low-performing schools often miss out on out-of-school enrichment opportunities that are available in more affluent areas.

  • Provide equitable learning conditions for all students – Resources should be distributed equitably, and in a way that allows all students a fair chance at a quality education.

  • Support the state-led common core standards – The federal government should support states as they adopt standards that have the potential to better the education of all students.  

  • Expand learning opportunities beyond the school day – Older youth require more time than the traditional school day in order to remain engaged at a globally competitive level.

CHSE is a coalition founded by 10 national civil rights and education organizations, including The Leadership Conference Education Fund, that represents communities of color in working to ensure that high schools properly prepare students for college and work.