How Do You View the Achievement Gap?

Ashley Thorne

NAS posted an essay, "Achievement Gap Politics," by an anonymous author whose story illustrates why ed schools try to keep students with non-progressive views out. The author writes:

First, you have to understand that educational policy is consumed by the achievement gap, which is the disparity between groups of students on most educational measures, particularly the groups of race and socio-economic income—and, if I'm going to be honest, it's race that generates the most intensity. I don't just mean that this is the number one priority. It's the only priority. The achievement gap pervades every corner of American educational policy discussion. Nothing else matters. No Child Left Behind was entirely about the achievement gap and measuring schools to see if they'd closed it. Obama's Race to the Top is just another take on the achievement gap—again, focusing on testing and this time holding teachers responsible if they can't get low-performing students to improve.

The author outlines three possible views of the achievement gap:

  1. The progressive view, which "holds that social injustice, institutionalized racism, white prejudice, and other societal ills cause the achievement gap." The solution progressives offer is "for underachievers to spend more time with achievers who will model desirable behavior."
  2. The conservative view, which says that "parents and teachers of low-performing students are the cause of the gap, by failing to give the students the correct cultural values." Conservatives argue that the solution is "hard work, family values, commitment to the importance of education, and 'no excuses.'"
  3. The third view, which the author calls the "Voldemort view" (because it must not be named) and considers the achievement gap to be the result of disparity in cognitive ability.

John Derbyshire linked to the article on the Corner at NRO.

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