ERIC Number: EJ974521
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Mar-7
Reference Count: N/A
Achievement Gaps Tied to Income Found Widening
Maxwell, Lesli A.
Education Week, v31 n23 p1, 22-23 Mar 2012
The fractious debate over how much schools can counteract poverty's impact on children is far from settled, but a recently published collection of research strongly suggests that until policymakers and educators confront deepening economic and social disparities, poor children will increasingly miss out on finding a path to upward social mobility. The achievement gap between poor children and rich children has grown significantly over the past three decades and is now nearly twice as large as the black-white gap. As the income gap has grown, so too has the disparity in how much money and time affluent parents invest in the development of their young children compared with such efforts by low-income parents. Just how the new findings might influence the ongoing debate in education policy circles around how much poverty matters is not yet clear. They build on years of research showing that family income and other factors linked to children's socioeconomic resources are the biggest predictor of students' educational attainment. Yet they also come as many education policymakers, philanthropic funders of school reform, and influential leaders, such as former District of Columbia schools chief Michelle A. Rhee, have zeroed in on promoting efforts to make teachers and schools good enough to transcend poor children's difficult circumstances. The debate around the relationship between poverty and success in school--which has played out in scholarly forums and on the front lines of education for decades--gained fresh intensity in the era of school accountability that began with the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act a decade ago. To some observers, the debate became more polarized in 2008 with the emergence of two distinct, though sometimes overlapping, "camps" emphasizing different policy prescriptions. One group, known as the "Broader, Bolder Approach to Education," issued a manifesto calling for an expansive view of education policy that says schools alone can't erase the effects of poverty and should be treated as one part of a bigger strategy to address health, housing, parenting, and out-of-school time, among other issues, to improve outcomes for students. The other group, known as the Education Equality Project and often referred to as the "no excuses" camp, called for adopting measures that would dramatically change the teaching profession through performance pay, an end to tenure, and creation of more-rigorous evaluations that would hold teachers accountable for their students' performance.
Descriptors: Achievement Gap, Teaching (Occupation), Poverty, Family Income, Federal Legislation, Economically Disadvantaged, Educational Attainment, Educational Change, Social Mobility, Correlation, Educational Legislation, Accountability, Educational Policy, Academic Achievement
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001