The achievement gap statistics for 2011, which were published by the National Center for Education Statistics, highlights a distasteful reality concerning education equity in America.
According to the study, the 4th grade Black-White mathematics achievement gap only changed by one percentage point, going from an average score gap of 26 in 2005, remaining stagnant for seven years, and narrowing to 25 just last year. In that same time period, the percentage of Black 4th graders who have been identified as scoring in the "basic" range of achievement has changed by only one percentage point (from 47 to 48). The percentage of those identified as "proficient" over the seven year period has gone from 12 to 16. Those who are "advanced" have hovered at just 1%. Over the span of 21 years--beginning in 1990--the score gap between Black and White 4th graders has only closed 6 points. The 2011 Black-White score gap for 8th graders was measured at 31. In 1990 it was 33.
Needless to say, this void of substantial productivity reflects a gross failure on the part of our communities, schools, and government to provide educational equity for all children, and should be characterized as a menace to our economic and social viability. Since Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954, billions of dollars have been streamed to schools, programs, and nonprofits to help fix the problem of inequality, but a real solution continues to evade us...or we continue to evade the real solutions.
People, not money, solve problems. There is a solution to the achievement gap enigma, but it lies in the intentional and premeditated action of individuals from all walks of life. There is enough "gap" for all of us to take part in closing--especially in a subject as critical as mathematics.
If you are interested in being aggressive aboutlclosing this gap, Neighborhood Mathematica, a supplemental math education program and competition where students represent their neighborhoods, will launch a summer-long math campaign to help students of African descent sharpen their math skills and develop community pride.
The program is in need of volunteer math coaches to hold office hours in local community and recreation centers. The program will be open to the public and will benefit students in grades 1-12, however volunteers do not need proficiency in math skills for every grade level. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if interested in serving as a math coach this summer, starting in late May. All volunteers will have to submit for a background check with the City of Atlanta, and need to have proficiency in their stated math levels of expertise.
Volunteers will be dispatched to the following Atlanta neighborhoods:
Adamsville, Adams Park, Ben Hill, Cleveland Avenue, Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway, Grove Park, Grove Park, Mechanicsville, Oakland City, Peoplestown, Pittman Park, Pittsburg and Sylvan Road.
If we want a fighting chance of being a viable and competitive country in the 21st century, we must do better at making sure that all children are competent in their core skills. Moreover, we must begin to assume our own niche of taking responsibility for the achievement gap.