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Midwest Achievement Gap Research Alliance

Click the link to see the full handout (in PDF format), which includes information about the alliance’s goals, members, and research agenda.

Download the alliance’s research agenda [454 KB PDF icon ]

Download the alliance’s overview handout [136 KB PDF icon ]

Partnership Facilitator

Kyle Fagan

Research Liaison

Jameela Conway-Turner

Partnership Objective

Many Black students excel academically and draw on resources such as supportive peers and teachers, as well as strong family ties. However, along their path to educational success, Black students face many hurdles that can prevent them from reaching their full potential. Research shows that Black students are less likely than their peers to have access to high-level mathematics and science courses, more likely to face harsher school discipline, and more likely to attend schools with higher concentrations of inexperienced teachers. These inequities in learning opportunities and environments have been described as opportunity gaps, educational debt, and achievement gaps.

The REL Midwest Achievement Gap Research Alliance (MAGRA) leverages data from state education agencies and other key stakeholders to increase the region’s capacity to access, conduct, interpret, and make sense of achievement gap research and to support the use of this research in state and local decisionmaking to significantly and meaningfully improve opportunities for Black students. MAGRA’s primary focus is addressing educational outcomes for Black students in Wisconsin. In addition, a community of practice connects key stakeholders across the region and is an active partner in the research process.

Wisconsin’s overall high school graduation rate ranks among the top in the nation, according to the National Center for Education Statistics 2015 Condition of Education report. However, the gap in scores between White and Black students on the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress was the widest in the country. To address this disparity, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is prioritizing improving educational outcomes among Black students.


  • Tony Chambers, Wisconsin Collaborative Education Research Network
  • Andreal Davis, Wisconsin Response to Intervention Center
  • Allison DeGraaf, Kennedy Elementary School, School District of Janesville
  • Carl Frederick, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
  • Eric Grodsky, Wisconsin Center for Education Research
  • Madeline Hafner, Minority Student Achievement Network
  • Julia Hartwig, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
  • Frank Humphrey, Wisconsin NAACP
  • Jerlando Jackson, Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory
  • Kurt Kiefer, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
  • Bo McCready, Madison Metropolitan School District
  • John Odom, Wisconsin NAACP
  • Brad Saron, Sun Prairie Area School District
  • Seena Makeeba Skelton, Midwest and Plains Equity Assistance Center
  • Brianna Stenson, Kennedy Elementary School, School District of Janesville
  • Chrishirella Sutton, Racine Unified School District
  • Karen Wendorf-Heldt, Cooperative Educational Service Agency (CESA) 9
  • Kate Womack, Kennedy Elementary School, School District of Janesville
  • Jonas Zuckerman, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

Training, Coaching, and Technical Support Projects

Environmental Scan on Closing the Black-White Achievement Gap

REL Midwest provided in-depth coaching and consultation to support the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s continued efforts to close the achievement gap between the state’s Black and White students. REL Midwest’s environmental scan included state and district profiles outlining existing policies, programs, and practices aimed at closing the achievement gap. REL Midwest also created an infographic that details the process for completing an environmental scan.


Evidence-Supported Interventions Associated with Black Students’ Education Outcomes: Findings from a Systematic Review of Research

REL Midwest conducted a systematic review of research on interventions that may improve academic outcomes for Black students. A related infographic [347 KB PDF icon ] highlights the study’s key findings.