March 3, 2005 Extra Credit
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March 3, 2005

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March 2
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Closing the Achievement Gap: "It Can Be Done And It Is Being Done"

The following are excerpts from a recent article in The Oregonian highlighting Oregon schools that have closed the achievement gap by implementing research based methods, frequent assessments, and placing a heavy emphasis on math and reading instruction:

"Six Oregon elementary schools and one rural school district were heralded Tuesday as models for closing the achievement gap that has left most minority and low-income students trailing their white, middle-income peers. Oregon schools superintendent Susan Castillo called the six ‘clear, inspiring examples … that it can be done and it is being done.’

"The schools have raised reading and math achievement of their minority and low-income students and their non-native English speakers nearly as high as, or higher than, that of white students across the state, officials said. The schools, which include Vernon Elementary in Portland and Beaver Acres Elementary in Beaverton, each get $2,000 to spend as they please. They also will share their successful strategies during a second annual ‘Closing the Gap’ conference next month."

"To be chosen, schools had to show high and improving achievement among minority and low-income students and had to show that they have research-based approaches. A committee of business and education leaders picked 12 finalists, and Castillo chose the winners. Judges were looking for achievement that stood above the rest. Beaver Acres, for instance, got its Latino and low-income students to pass the state math test at rates higher than white students statewide. At Vernon, African American and Latino students perform nearly as well as Oregon's white students in reading and better than them in math.

"Principals of winning schools named several strategies common to nearly all the winning schools: They test students repeatedly during the year and act immediately on results, regrouping students, adding extra support or changing curriculum when necessary. They set aside lots of time for teaching reading and math — two hours in reading and writing every day at Vernon, 75 minutes of math each day at Beaver Acres — and treat that time as sacred.

"Nearly every certified educator in the building teaches reading so that reading groups can be small and tailored to students' particular level. The school culture conveys that every child can achieve. And teachers are given time to go over results and plan for improvements together."

"Portland Superintendent Vicki Phillips praised Castillo for holding up examples of Oregon schools with high achievement among disadvantaged students. ‘We know this will spark many robust conversations about what we can all learn from each other,’ she said."


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NCLB Extra Credit is a regular look at the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush's landmark education reform initiative passed with bipartisan support in Congress.

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Last Modified: 08/14/2013