Like many school districts across the nation, Rochester, Minnesota, struggles to address the disparities in academic achievement among its students. Helping this city of 100,000 identify and address these gaps is the focus of new research conducted by EDC.
“We needed the school and community to see that addressing the gaps in education was important for all children, not just those of color and with disabilities,” says EDC’s David Riley.
Working closely with school staff, students, families, and the community, EDC researchers examined how differences in such areas as ethnicity, ability, and language skills affected student achievement. The researchers then created a plan, with recommendations focused on embracing a culture of diversity, both in and out of school. The plan also recommends that the district take steps to ensure that all students have access to programs and enrichment activities, such as extracurriculars and Advanced Placement courses.
“Our research pointed out the different experiences that children and families have—for instance, access to after-school and weekend transportation—and we were able to link these gaps in opportunity to gaps in achievement,” says Riley.
Closing the achievement gap between different groups of students is increasingly important as local industries seek to attract a more diverse workforce. “There is a need to embrace diversity and see it as an opportunity,” says Riley.
Originally published on July 25, 2008