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Can the Achievement Gaps be Overcome?

  1. How to Close the Achievement Gap: Research and Policy

The College Board Makes Recommendations to Increase Minority High Achievement

What can America do to raise the numbers of high achieving minority students? The College Board makes several recommendations.

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

Miller, L. S. (1999).Reaching the top: Report of the National Task Force on Minority High Achievement.The College Board. Retrieved April 2, 2002 from (Adobe® Reader® PDF)
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To see other reports that originated from this same citation, go to the bibliography.

The College Board puts the situation succinctly:

"Americans have a moral, social, and economic obligation to expand greatly both public and private investments in the educational development of African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans. . . . One priority of these public and private investments should be nurturing high achievement." (p. 30)

It is not just enough, argues L. Scott Miller, writing for the College Board, to work to increase the achievement of economically and socially disadvantaged studentsmany of whom are minority. We must work to ensure that minorities of all social classes reach their full academic potential. Too often, minorities of middle- and higher-SES categories are forgotten, and consequently, do not score on parity with their white peers.

College Board Recommendations

What can be done to achieve the goal of high achievement for minorities? In their report,Reaching the Top: Report of the National Task Force on Minority High Achievement,the College Board makes recommendations for several different U.S. groups.

Target Group


Higher Education

  1. Senior university and college officials should make raising minority academic achievement at their institutions a top priority.
  2. Senior officials should create consortia organized to promote proven strategies and programs for raising minority achievement.
  3. Senior officials should track minority achievement patterns so that they can use this information to guide strategies for raising the achievement of underrepresented minorities.
  4. Historically white colleges and universities should work with historically minority universities to gain insights into strategies for raising minority achievement.
  5. Four-year colleges need to work more closely with community colleges to identify and recruit promising minority students, and then provide them with supports to be successful in the four-year colleges.
  6. Senior officials should encourage study of what financial assistance packages might best support high achievement for minority students.
  7. College and university leaders should encourage their donors to support programs and initiatives to support high academic achievement for underrepresented minorities.

Elementary and Secondary Education

  1. Local, state, and federal educators should set a priority goal of increasing the number of underrepresented minorities among the top performing students.
  2. Policy makers and others should evaluate the effectiveness of programs targeting disadvantaged students to see if these programs can be used to raise the achievement levels of minority students from all social class backgrounds.
  3. The U.S. Department of Education should make fostering high minority achievement a top priority.
  4. Leaders of school districts with similar minority compositions should form consortia to develop strategies for increasing minority high achievement.
  5. Federal policymakers should develop a policy of providing schools with 25%-50% disadvantaged students with resources and programs (perhaps supporting whole school reform) that promise to raise minority achievement.

Supplementary Education

  1. The educational research and policy analyst communities, in conjunction with organizations concerned with minority education, should design and help implement supplementary education systems across the country for underrepresented minority students.
  2. Community organizations should commit to providing a wider mix of supplementary programs that run throughout the year.

Early Childhood and Parent Education

  1. Leaders in early childhood and adult education programs should work to ensure that these programs are widely accessible to underrepresented minorities regardless of their economic background.
  2. Policy makers and researchers should make it a priority to assess the effectiveness of these programs for minorities of all social class backgrounds.

Minority Leaders and Parents

  1. Minority parents and local and national organizations representing minority interests should become more vocal advocates of the goal of increasing minority high achievement.
  2. Leaders of national minority organizations should build the capacity to provide information on successful programs and strategies that foster high minority achievement.

Foundations and Government Agencies

  1. Private foundations that focus on education should make a priority of funding programs that foster high minority achievement.
  2. Agencies in the federal government like the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation should invest resources in efforts to increase the number of high-achieving minority students in their fields of interest.


  1. Looking forward to the next generation of business leaders, the business community should become strong advocates for high minority academic achievement.
  2. Through philanthropy and summer work programs, corporations should work directly to increase the numbers of high-achieving minority students.

News Media

  1. The news media should increase its coverage of the underrepresentation of minorities among the highest achieving students.
  2. The media should present a complete picture of the problem of minority high achievement, including the extent of the problems, the causes for the situation, promising strategies for remedying the problem, and progress made in addressing the problem.

The College Board believes that only concerted effort among many organizations and institutions can adequately address the problem of minority high achievement. Regardless of how difficult this might be, they also believe that Americans have an obligation to do what it takes to solve this problem.

Research Design:

Research Questions

What are the patterns of minority high academic achievement?

What can be done to foster high academic achievement for minority groups?

What has been done in the way of educational programs to foster high academic achievement for minority groups?

Data and Method

Miller writes a programmatic piece. His goal is to draw on existing research to argue that more can and should be done to foster high minority academic achievement.

Funding Source

The College Board.


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