Helping Students Succeed: Communities Confront the Achievement GapReport as inadecuate

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Kettering Foundation

In 2007, the Kettering Foundation launched a nationwide, two-year research project to learn what people in communities across the nation think about the achievement gap--and what roles they see for themselves in helping young people succeed academically. The community forums, which drew more than 3,200 participants nationwide, spotlighted elements crucial to sparking public action to tackle the problem. The results of that research hold important implications for both professional educators and for ordinary citizens. Using trained community facilitators and a policy guide Kettering developed, called "Too Many Children Left Behind: How Can We Close the Achievement Gap?", diverse participants talked openly and frankly about the issue. Overall, the deliberations revealed three key findings: (1) the words "achievement gap" hold almost no meaning for the people with the most at stake: the students, parents, and other residents of communities where the achievement gap is most pronounced; (2) while educational experts see the achievement gap as a national problem, citizens see it as a local problem with particular solutions that reflect specific local factors; and (3) forum participants across the nation felt that responsibility for helping minority and low-income students succeed rested not just with educators and schools--the traditional focus of action on education matters--but also with parents and other adults, with local institutions other than schools, and with broad community involvement and individual commitment. Three appendices are included: (1) Kettering Foundation Issue Guide: Summary of Approaches; (2) Research Forum Sites; and (3) Post-forum Questionnaire.

Descriptors: Low Income, Community Involvement, Academic Achievement, Achievement Gap, Community Attitudes, Minority Groups, Local Issues, Guides, Questionnaires, Meetings, Racial Differences, Guidelines

Kettering Foundation. 200 Commons Road, Dayton, OH 45459. Tel: 937-434-7300; Fax: 937-439-9804; Web site:

Author: Flono, Fannie


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