Indiana's scholars program on pace to close achievement gap
- A program designed to close the achievement gap in Indiana is paying off, according to a report by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.
- Officials with the state's 21st Century Scholars program say its low-income participants are outperforming other low-income and minority students in their likelihood to attend college, be successful after enrolled and complete their degrees.
- In 2013, the commission set goals of halving the achievement gap by 2018 and eliminating it by 2025. So far, the state has closed the achievement gap for low-income and minority students by more than half compared with the total student population. However, the scholars are the only group on pace to meet the 2025 goal.
Elsewhere in the U.S., efforts to close the achievement gap have met varying degrees of success.
One recent study found that a U.S. Department of Education effort to narrow the achievement gap did not improve the status of young black and Latino men in New York City high schools. The participating schools, which had high graduation rates but low college-readiness data, received a $250,000 grant through the program. The report showed about 16% of participating students met college-ready criteria, compared to 18.6% at similar city schools analyzed in the report. Inconsistent implementation and review of the program across participating schools, as well as minimal focus on college readiness, is partly to blame for the disappointing results.
The college testing firm ACT in a recent report with the United Negro College Fund indicated that while African-American students are achieving significantly better in school generally, they lag in college readiness. Only about 6% met ACT benchmarks for college readiness in four key subjects (English, reading, mathematics and science) as opposed to 28% for all students.
Two leading college attendance researchers last year published a book suggesting that to increase college-readiness for disadvantaged students, the U.S. education system must offer more financial aid and academic support. The researchers also call for strengthening connections between coursework and the labor market and offering more structured paths to college and careers.
- Indiana Commission for Higher Education Indiana on track to close college achievement gap