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NCREL® Hosts National Panel on Achievement Gaps

Educators Share Research and Successful Interventions

September 19, 2002

Naperville, IL — NCREL convened a national panel today on closing the achievement gaps that exist in schools. Data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, Scholastic Aptitude Test, and American College Test consistently demonstrate gaps in performance between students by race and income. NCREL has a mandate from the U.S. Department of Education to respond to achievement gaps in the Midwest.

"Bridging the Great Divide: Broadening Perspectives on Closing Achievement Gaps" brought together over 100 representatives from academic institutions, schools, and state agencies nationwide. Susan Sclafani, counselor to U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige, was the keynote speaker.

NCREL's Executive Director Gina Burkhardt spoke about NCREL's efforts to help schools and districts in the Midwest identify achievement gaps and develop strategies to close them. "Unfortunately, too many students begin their education with fewer advantages and foundational skills than others—facts that quickly translate into learning gaps at school," Burkhardt said.

Three panel discussions led by policymakers, researchers, and local high school students provided participants with relevant information for closing achievement gaps based on the No Child Left Behind Act. Participants also learned about the latest research, effective strategies, and current policies for closing the gaps.

Burkhardt stressed the importance of education stakeholders working together to find solutions to solve this nationwide dilemma. "We must agree to identify and employ initiatives that hold the greatest promise for moving all students—including students of color, poor students, rural and urban students, and second-language learners—to high levels of achievement," she said.

Another important aspect of the day-long event was the unveiling of NCREL's Closing the Achievement Gaps Web site. The Web site serves as a repository of research, promising strategies, important meetings, and valuable tools that are produced by NCREL for addressing achievement gaps. In addition, the site includes a Literature Library that contains significant, timely resources pertaining to the topic.


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