The Scariness of The Achievement Gap
The concept known as The Achievement Gap has been around for 100 years (2016). It was not an anniversary that I was familiar with nor would care to celebrate.
Although the Achievement Gap has shed light on the disparities that exist between children of color and White students, as measured by standardized assessments, does it actually provide us with the data needed to restructure, shift and transform the current state of our classrooms?
Personally, I believe that the Achievement Gap is a social construct that perpetuates the disparities and inequities that exist within the educational learning environments of children of color. Notice, I didn't mention that this concept highlights how our children learn or what they can learn. In my opinion, I think this concept only provides a window into a moment in time of the lives of children of color and the struggles they are enduring, that have caused some educational setbacks and delays, as measured by a standardized assessments. In other words, it only tells you what they couldn't answer at the time but does nothing to document the why. Yet this Achievement Gap concept is used to continue the stereotypes and biases about the "intelligent and academic ability level" of children of color.
Furthermore, this concept, is an excuse and a barrier (in my opinion) that is deferred to when "solutions" implemented by 'the powers that be' don't work. This concept is used to validate the mediocrity and minimalist tactics often used to provide surface solutions for ingrained and deeper concerns within the schools and districts that educate children of color.
Let's be honest. The concept of the Achievement Gap has provided leverage for some to argue the need for more resources for schools with high minority populations as well as for systems of accountabilities for teachers and administrators. But can we be real? Why don't most of our children do well on these standardized assessments? There are several factors; materials tested had not been taught; material taught was not taught to allow students to 'own' their learning; material taught was not made relevant and therefore not retained; the list goes on and on. Yet we used the data from the assessments, the summary reports and achievement gap charts to say that there has been progress although it has been minimal. Hmmmmm.
I think it is time for us not to put ALL our faith in what the test data says. We need to dig deeper and holistically address the concerns and issues within our learning institutions. No student, teacher or school should be labeled or deemed inadequate if we have not done our due diligence in providing strategic support and in addressing root causes. There are many studies that document academic success is not guaranteed with increase funding.
We appreciate the big picture view of our educational systems, through the lens of the Achievement Gap. But with a lot more focus, we make the picture a lot clearer, brighter and not so scary.