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Task force asks successful educators to share insights about closing the achievement gap

Successful educators to share insights about closing the achievement gap

By Emily Kirkwood
June 22, 2017

The achievement gap, or the difference in academic performance among different groups of students, poses a significant problem to students and states alike. Faced with data from the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress showing Wisconsin had the widest race-based achievement gaps in fourth–grade reading and eighth–grade mathematics, State Superintendent Dr. Tony Evers convened a task force to address this persistent and troubling issue. The outcomes of the task force's work have informed MAGRA's research agenda and planned efforts.

The Promoting Excellence for All: State Superintendent's Task Force on Wisconsin's Achievement Gap included 18 educators–superintendents, principals, teachers, curriculum coordinators, and instructional coaches–from traditional public, charter, and private schools with demonstrated success in closing the achievement gap. With research and facilitation support from the Midwest Comprehensive Center and Wisconsin DPI, this group shared and brainstormed strategies, resources, and policy changes to address the achievement gap. Specifically, the task force sought to:

  • Examine and recommend proactive instructional strategies to close achievement gaps in Wisconsin.
  • Develop resources for Wisconsin practitioners working to close achievement gaps in their schools and districts.
  • Recommend local board policy changes that can support efforts to close achievement gaps in Wisconsin schools.

The task force's work culminated in two products: a report and an eCourse.

  • The report (PDF) breaks down the task force's beliefs, support from the research, and recommended strategies into four categories: effective instruction, student–teacher relationships, family and community engagement, and school and instructional leadership.
  • The eCourse is designed to help educators deepen their understanding and use of proven strategies to close the achievement gap. It comprises three learning modules: Understanding Race in Education, Exploring the Data, and Using the Strategies.

MAGRA member Allison DeGraaf, principal at Kennedy Elementary School in Janesville, Wisconsin, participated in the task force and sees Promoting Excellence for All as a foundation for the alliance's research on the achievement gap.

"When the task force completed these resources, we knew the work couldn't stop there. We hoped it would start further work," said DeGraaf. "I think the alliance can dig deeper into the research and figure out resources, action steps, and strategies to continue to support schools in Wisconsin doing this work."

Visit Wisconsin DPI's Promoting Excellence for All website to access comprehensive information and resources. We also encourage you to stay up–to–date with REL Midwest's related work on closing the achievement gap in Wisconsin and other Midwest states.

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Author(s) Information

Emily Kirkwood Staff Picture

Emily Kirkwood

Communications Specialist | REL Midwest


Beating the odds (2)

Charter Schools (2)

College and Career Readiness (42)

Data Use (32)

Discipline (4)

Early Childhood (31)

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English Learners (10)

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Math (1)

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