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A year of work toward closing the achievement gap

A year of work toward closing the achievement gap

By Marguerite Huber
November 8, 2017

The Midwest Achievement Gap Research Alliance (MAGRA) has been bustling with activity this past year.

Focused in Wisconsin, the alliance has been working toward its goals of:

  • Increasing the region’s capacity to access, conduct, interpret, and make sense of achievement gap research.
  • Supporting the use of achievement gap research in decisionmaking at the state and local levels.

To reach these goals, MAGRA embarked on three exciting projects in its first year: a systematic literature review, an environmental scan, and an in-person event.

MAGRA’s applied research and technical support projects were designed to work in tandem. First, the systematic literature review examined current research evidence for interventions that could help improve achievement outcomes among Black students. After whittling down more than 3,900 articles, the researchers found about 50 studies that met their criteria. The report will provide a summary of interventions that have been empirically tested and that show some evidence of being associated with the education outcomes of Black students.

The second project, an environmental scan, aimed to inventory the state and district efforts to close the Black-White achievement gap in Wisconsin. In collaboration with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI), the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest created state and district profiles outlining their various policies, programs, and practices. At the next in-person MAGRA convening, REL Midwest will present the results of the systematic literature review and environmental scan and facilitate a sense-making process to look for areas of convergence and divergence between the projects. Taken together, the projects’ results will be used to build on MAGRA’s shared research agenda and inform future MAGRA work.

Finally, MAGRA collaborated with the Cooperative Educational Service Agency (CESA) 1 — one of the 12 regional agencies serving Wisconsin’s schools — to host an in-person event in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. The day-long event focused on culturally responsive practices that show promise in closing the achievement gap and the research that supports those practices. Staff from the Wisconsin Response to Intervention (RtI) Center and Wisconsin Information System for Education helped participants analyze their own district’s data on disproportionality using a risk ratio approach, while REL Midwest staff discussed their current work. During the event, participants reflected on existing work and made plans for integrating culturally responsive practices into their districts and classrooms.

With the alliance’s first year of work providing a solid foundation, the future looks bright for MAGRA to reach its goals.

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Author(s) Information

Marguerite Huber Staff Picture

Marguerite Huber

Communications Associate | REL Midwest


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