Policy Documents

Closing Springfield's Achievement Gap: Innovative Ways to Use MCAS Data Drive School Reform

Dr. Kathleen Madigan, Theodor Rebarber, and Dr. Bruce Bean –
October 19, 2009

Business leaders, educators, policy makers, and civil rights advocates are increasingly dedicated to fundamental reform to close the achievement gap that limits hope and opportunity for students from historically disadvantaged groups. Substantial gaps in academic achievement between groups of students based on race, ethnicity and similar factors should have no place in American society in the 21st century. For those 

students facing such deficits, the effects can be profound. They dictate which students receive the preparation necessary to succeed in their choice of college and work, and which ones continue to be left behind.1

While some limited reductions in the achievement gap have occurred, the remaining gap continues to be inexcusably large. Each year, millions of students depart school to enter the world of work or seek higher education. Even among those students who complete secondary education and earn a high school diploma, many from historically disadvantaged groups are being shortchanged. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the academic performance of students from minority groups in 12th grade is closer to that of white students in 8th grade than it is to that of their peers.

2 More than just committing to change, we must act with a sense of urgency that acknowledges that many students simply cannot wait year after year to see the practical effects of reform, because it will pass them by.