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Achievement Gaps
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Can the Achievement Gaps be Overcome?

  1. Schools that are Successful in Closing the Achievement Gaps

Public Schools Should Learn from the Best Practices of Military-Run Schools

There are many lessons to be learned and practices to be replicated from the military-run schools in overcoming the achievement gap.

This reports some of the ideas and findings from the following source:

Viadero, D. (2000, March 29). Minority gaps smaller in some Pentagon schools.Education Week. Retrieved August 28, 2002, from

To see other reports that originated from this same citation, go to the bibliography.

The author explains that although there is a great knowledge gap between black and Hispanic students and white students in all schools, this gap is much smaller in schools run by the U.S. Department of Defense than in their counterparts nationwide (the gap is half the size in Pentagon-run schools). Viadero states that there are many similarities between the situations faced by impoverished urban blacks and Hispanics and those children who attend Pentagon-run schools. Both groups experience:

  • incredibly high mobility
  • single-parent households (many military families are separated while spouses are "on duty")
  • low incomes

With these similarities, one would expect similar outcomes, more specifically, poor academic performance. But Viadero claims that is not the case.

Military-Run Schools Can Draw on Different Resources

Viadero explores the situation deeper to explain why two school systems faced with very similar problems have such different outcomes.



Place of Duty

Military-run schools rely on their military culture and infrastructure for support, for instance:

  • Parents show up for parent-teacher meetings or else a report is made to their commanding officer.
  • Troublemakers can be "shipped back home to the U.S."

Community Support

  • Families in military-run schools can call on the community for any needs they have (i.e., mentors, volunteers, or technical expertise.) "Everything in the Army is designed so that when a soldier is deployed somewhere, he can focus on the task at hand."
  • The military rewards educational success with "higher rank and more money."

More Supportive

  • Students from parents of all ranks are equal to one another (i.e., Generals’ children play with those of Privates).
  • A standardized curriculum and textbooks greatly reduce problems related to mobility. Standard course requirements are high.
  • The teaching force is more educated (although the salaries are roughly comparable).
  • The Defense Department spends 24% more on each student ($8,579) than the national average.

No Disparity

There are no inner-city/suburb disparities, as all the schools are treated equally and given identical resources.

So the big question is: can these results be replicated? Viadero claims that some experts do not think so because the environments are too different. Despite the similarities between the situations faced by students, i.e., mobility, etc., military families still have stable housing, a regular paycheck, and free medical care.

Despite these critiques, Viadero still believes that there are many lessons to be learned and practices to be replicated from the military-run schools.


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