The Achievement Gap
The Achievement Gap
A primary dysfunction of human society is inequality. Most people have heard of the pay gap and the socioeconomic gap, but few know of and pay attention to the achievement gap. It can be argued that the achievement gap is the root of most other inequalities, after all, many societal issues stem from a lack of education. The achievement gap is defined as as the academic disparity between different groups of students.
Of course, the achievement gap is attached to the issue of wealth distribution: the wealthier you are the more likely you are to do well in school. This is often true because of the external factors that wealth creates; if one’s parents are well-off, the student is often pressured to do well in school and given resources to help them excel. Trying to fairly divide wealth is tedious and isn’t really something the government can tackle, especially in respect to the issue of the achievement gap. The solution to doing away with the achievement gap lies in government legislation. It is up to the people to lobby for an effective body of laws to truly get rid of this problem.
Closing the achievement gap has been a goal of the federal education committee. The key piece of legislation passed with the objective of doing something about the issue at hand is the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The highlight of the act is the government’s flagship aid program that aims to help disadvantaged students. The main tactic of this sort of education reform is focused on setting high standards for students and initiating program based on reaching a certain standard, with the aim of improving the successes of individual students. The program requires certain types of assessments that are coordinated by the state government, the achievement standards are also set by the state in question.
When considering American politics, it’s especially important to note that the bill passed with bipartisan support as this ensures that legislation concerning the achievement gap won’t be to difficult to pass in the future. Even though many people disagree with the values associated with standardized testing, this is the only efficient way to evaluate students on a federal level and understand what progress still needs to made.
The No Child Left Behind Act isn’t a horrible piece of legislation, but it’s important to understand its shortcomings so that new laws can be more effective. The main fallacy of the law is that it expects all students to be above average. This is highly unpractical and often leads to school districts manipulating the system so that they receive the benefits that they would have got if their students earned higher scores. NCLB is aligned with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and this union has turned out to be quite productive for students with disabilities, but there are concerns about how schools would be able to intervene and help individual students.
In respect to race and minority groups, their scores are going up, but most students’ scores are going up too, so white students still always seem to be in the lead. There is also controversy over the fact that NCLB refuses to print tests in languages other than English as this is obviously a disadvantage to immigrant children who aren’t yet proficient in English. All in all, the No Child Left Behind Act hasn’t completely closed the achievement gap, but it has definitely provided the grounds to actually go about accomplishing that goal.
Prathusha Yeruva hails from the Great Lake state and is currently a sophomore at Troy Athens High School. She has an interest in biology and journalism, as well as in female empowerment. She founded a She's the First chapter at her high school (an organization that sponsors girls' education in the developing world), and that opportunity has definitely given her a more developed lens on women's issues globally.