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This study examined North Carolina schools serving large numbers of poor and minority students, emphasizing nine schools where black student achievement was especially high, where black students had made strong gains, or where the black-white achievement gap was closing faster than the state average. Between 1999-00, research teams visited each school, interviewing staff, administrators, students, and parents, observing in classrooms, reviewing documents, and interviewing district-level staff. Overall, teachers in these schools often mentioned characteristics of school leadership as a catalyst for their success. There was tolerance for different teaching styles. Administrators treated teachers like colleagues. Each school emphasized helping students master basic reading, writing, and mathematics competencies; using district-wide pacing guides and teacher-developed thematic units; using elective teachers; and promoting professional development. Most schools participated in district-wide reading and mathematics testing every 6-9 weeks. Many schools used technology in teaching core academic skills. Other common strategies included one-on-one tutoring, small group programs, and creative grouping. Many of the schools had developed a culture of achievement and utilized various mechanisms for communicating high expectations to teachers, students, and parents. An appendix profiles case study schools. (Contains 23 references.) (SM)

Descriptors: Academic Achievement, Black Students, Educational Environment, Educational Quality, Educational Technology, Elementary Secondary Education, Mathematics Skills, Reading Skills, School Culture, Small Group Instruction, Teaching Methods, Tutoring

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Author: North Carolina State Dept. of Public Instruction, Raleigh. Div. of Accountability.


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