It Takes More Than Testing: Closing the Achievement Gap
May 23, 2001
Center on Education Policy
The Center on Education Policy is the small outfit led by veteran Democratic House education staffer Jack Jennings. Last month, it published a 40-page report (prepared by staff member Nancy Kober) on achievement gaps between black and Hispanic students on the one hand, whites and Asians on the other. The topic is important and timely, especially considering that current White House and Congressional ESEA action centers on ways of narrowing these gaps. The C.E.P. report offers plainly stated data, much of it drawn from such oft-trod sources as NAEP and SAT scores. (Less familiar is evidence of an achievement gap at the time of entry into school.) This report offers no grand insights as to what causes these gaps-it summons the usual mix of school, home and societal factors-nor does it break new ground in advancing gap-closing strategies. The central thrust is that "testing and accountability" aren't sufficient. Instead, the report argues, policymakers need to "be bold in providing the full range of strategies, supports, and resources required to raise achievement among Black and Hispanic children....". But of course the report does not begin to offer a "full range" of strategies. Everything it recommends is centralized, top-down and system-driven. There's not a glimmer of market-style or parent-driven reform, of monopoly busting. It's another of those reports-we seem to be awash in them-that does a good job of framing the problem and then delivers the "same old" advice about solving it. If you'd like to see for yourself, the Center on Education Policy is located at 1001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 619, Washington DC 20036. Phone (202) 822-8065; fax (202) 822-6008; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or surf to www.ctredpol.org.