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February 16, 2005 Extra Credit
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February 16, 2005

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Uncovering The Achievement Gap

The following are excerpts from a recent article in The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (IA) about progress made in closing the achievement gap in a local school district. Cedar Falls School District noted that there is an achievement gap and with No Child Left Behind they are focusing on closing the gap even more.

"Students in the Cedar Falls School District scored well on standardized tests taken last fall, according to data the School Board reviewed Monday.

"Students showed a slight increase in proficiency in reading, math and science over the previous year's scores. All together, 90 percent of students in fourth, eighth and 11th grades were proficient in reading, math and science…."

"…New federal requirements on sorting testing data by demographic groups have revealed notable differences among groups.

"For example, students from low-income families were less likely to score well on the tests. Some 71 percent of fourth-graders on free or reduced-priced lunches were proficient in reading, compared to 87 percent of other students.

"‘Before you said, ‘Oh, yeah, everyone's doing fine.’ Now, they're looking specifically at what are the skills," said Clark Goltz, director of elementary education.

"Another disparity exists with students in special education. Under the federal No Child Left Behind law, districts are responsible for bringing special-needs students up to proficiency in core subject areas…. Dan Conrad, director of secondary education, said educators have been heartened by modest gains in the scores."

"‘Special needs is, of course, the area that we're most concerned about,’ he said. ‘The trend in the past has been that the gap (in scores) gets larger (through school), and we're starting to address that’…."

"Goltz said the district can be proud of its progress. He noted Cedar Falls students are averaging 1.4 years of academic growth in one year's time. ‘It indicates there is growth,’ he said. ‘You will see some dips, but you have to look at it over time.’

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Last Modified: 08/13/2013