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A Spotlight on the Achievement Gap

While I was on a recent visit to a program in New Jersey that aims to improve student achievement, I chatted with a researcher about some of the pros and cons of the federal accountability system's focus on closing achievement gaps. One of the few areas of consensus on the No Child Left Behind Act is its requirement that disaggregating test scores by student group has brought to light problems previously hidden by school averages. Yet doing so can also increase the risk that educators and researchers will target "problem groups" rather than identifying individual students' needs.

From a research perspective, what do you think? Should schools target programs to specific groups of students? Should researchers seek to parse out interventions that work for black boys but not Hispanic girls? Does targeting programs also label students and set them up for discrimination?

On hot education topics like the achievement gap, research studies often come out faster than we can take them in. If you'd like a more in-depth retrospective on the achievement gap, my colleagues at Education Week have collected some of the most interesting research studies and policy trends for a nominal fee in a new Spotlight report.

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