By Brittany Hutson
A report released in mid-November by A+ Schools, an independent community organization based in Pittsburgh that advocates for improved student achievement, revealed that the achievement gap between Black and White students is narrowing but it will take 40 years to be eliminated. But what’s even more discouraging about the report’s results is that though the performance of Black students on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests is on the upswing, the elimination of the gap is more contingent on declining White student achievement.
According to the New Pittsburgh Courier, the report also stresses that a key area to addressing the achievement gap is improvement in high schools. When A+ Schools examined achievement at other types of schools like Magnet and charter schools, they found that those schools had a higher percentage of Black students that scored proficient or advanced on Pennsylvania System of School Assessment test (PSSA).
Carey Harris, A+ Schools executive director, told the Courier that “Overall, we see progress in schools across the district. We have good examples of district and charter schools that are educating students to high levels. But there is much more work to be done, especially in our high schools.”
Despite the reports efforts, it still doesn’t give a clear explanation of how the achievement gap is changing. Nor does it offer an explanation as to why it will allegedly take 40 years to close the gap. Furthermore, it’s uncertain whether other school districts in the country would draw the same conclusion about the time period it would take to narrow the achievement gap.
An article published in Newsweek four months ago offered some possible techniques from a few schools across the world on how to erase the gap: one, children should be in school early; two, make note that on average, a child spends half their day until the age of 18 outside of school. In the U.S., KIPP charter school students spend 60 percent more time in school than the average American student. Third, there is value in individualized attention.