An achievement gap is a difference between the average scores of the best and poor-performing students in subjects (The National Center for Education Statistics: State Comparisons, 2013). This study evaluates recent trends in achievement gaps using the national school lunch eligibility. This study also reviews achievement gaps at both the state and national level, as well as their impact.
Grade, subjects, and student groups understudy
The achievement gaps of White and Hispanic students to their gender attract concern in the United States. According to The National Center for Education Statistics: State Comparisons (2013), a reading test by non-eligible eighth-graders received an average score of 229, while eligible students received an average score of 224. In this case, the difference was statistically significant, indicating an achievement gap.
On the other hand, a math test by non-eligible eighth students indicates an average score of 297 while eligible students received an average score of 276. This indicates no statistically significant differences between the two scores. Results from a 2013 study by the NCES show achievement gaps in math and reading scores in eighth-grade student groups. The study also shows no significant gaps in eighth-grade reading scores between Hispanic and white students of both genders (The National Center for Education Statistics: State Comparisons, 2013).
States with the highest and lowest achievement gaps
While the achievement gaps are straightforward, it remains complex to meet and conceptualize. From the study, Connecticut has the worst achievement gap, as their peers have difficulties in learning to read and do math (The National Center for Education Statistics: State Comparisons, 2013). On the other hand, Massachusetts has the highest reading and math scores in the US.
The national school lunch eligibility in Oregon State
In US public schools, students who do not meet national school lunch eligibility tend to get higher scores as compared to eligible students in reading tests (Gardner, 2007. Looking at the national school lunch eligibility in Oregon State, Oregon is above the national average score. For example, between 2010 and 2011, Oregon State students had a national school lunch eligibility of 50.7%, while the national average for the period stood at 48%. Clearly, the statistical data explains the positive achievement gaps in the state (The National Center for Education Statistics: State Comparisons, 2013).
How Lessons from Gardner’s article affects my questioning process
The questions raised in Gardner’s article indeed affect my questioning process. When questioning achievement gaps, I avoid lumping disaggregated differences among groups and instead put more thought into gap data interpretation. Gardner (2007) emphasizes that avoidance allows one to use this strategy effectively in studying achievement gaps. On the other hand, using average scores for subgroups mask conditions that each student faces, casting doubt on achievement gap data and their legibility.
Factors contributing to Oregon State’s negative or positive achievement gap
Previous studies show that family involvement decreases achievement gaps among low-income students. Oregon State families that increased their school involvement experience improved literacy learning (Murphy, 2009). The author also asserts that earlier reading increases the chances of students learning preschool literacy at tender ages. Therefore, schools that fail to intervene in students’ scores get much lower experiences in reading and math comprehension. Essentially, schools that fail to discuss achievement gaps using culturally supportive practices have negative achievement gaps.
The economic impact of the achievement gap results in Oregon and the US
States and nations have to focus on causes of achievement gaps to find amicable solutions to the problem. By working on factors influencing national productivity, such as education, we can check existing avenues to improve both the state and country’s economic performance (Murphy, 2009). Therefore, analyzing achievement gaps can shed light on the costs of educational practices. A significant economic benefit of closing the achievement gap in US schools is increasing the GDP by 5% from over $1.3 trillion to $2.3 trillion (Murphy, 2009).
The connection between improved learning among students and teachers
Teachers need to stay informed of new research findings that relate to their professional roles and practices (Gardner, 2007). This enables them to join these practices in student learning within and outside the classroom. Engaging in professional learning ensures the refreshing of teachers’ practices to make sure that they promote effective learning that would benefit the young.
Summarily, the extent to which a country and state use their human potential determines their prosperity. If the gap between low performing states and others narrows, the GDP can rise significantly. Study findings show that quality childhood education, as well as family involvement, also decreases achievement gaps. However, while average achievement gaps aid in formulating policies, groups often have low and high achieving students that research can only figure by studying one student at a time.
Gardner, D. (2007). Confronting the Achievement Gap. Phi Delta Kappan, 88(7), 542-546.
Murphy J. (2009). Closing Achievement Gaps: Lessons From the Last 15 years. Phi Delta Kappan, 91(3), 8–12.
The National Center for Education Statistics: State Comparisons. (2013). Web.