- Sarah Yost, a National Board-certified teacher and former Teach Kentucky fellow, shares with Edutopia several strategies she has found helpful in helping teachers recognize, discuss and adapt to cultural differences so they can close school achievement gaps.
- Yost suggests several steps school leaders can follow, including making the school more student-centered and finding ways to give students a voice.
- Teachers and administrators take the Harvard Implicit Bias test and use that data and student achievement data to find reasons for achievement gaps, she says, and she also recommends that administrators and teachers read the National Board’s Equity Standards together as a way to discuss equity issues with a growth mindset.
Improving equity in education can help close the achievement gaps that often exist. However, schools have taken several approaches to closing these gaps, some with better success than others. In some cases, personalizing professional development for teachers has helped to bridge the gap. In other cases, data and tech resources have been helpful in identifying gaps and working to close them.
However, it seems that attitudes make a big difference when it comes to closing achievement gaps. A growth mindset for both teachers and students adds hope to the equation and allows both parties to progress more positively toward achieving goals. When schools also focus on students as the core of the learning process rather than tests or teachers, more progress is possible.
Equity issues have long been prevalent in the K-12 system, with racial disparities typically showing up the most among students. Low-income areas typically see fewer resources in their schools, and important tools often used in addressing equity — including technology and more experienced teachers — aren't present, leaving students at a disadvantage, often because of socioeconomic differences. Multiple strategies and approaches can be used to close these persisting achievement gaps. Adopting the right mindset while seeking the best answers for each school can ease the process as school leaders continue to strive for equity.