Definition: Achievement gap is used by education advocates and policy makers to refer to the lower scores that minority students get on standardized tests. Focusing advocacy on closing the achievement gap has sparked extensive public attention to the problem without much progress.
What it really says: Minority students aren’t achieving academically like their white counterparts, thereby reinforcing racial stereotypes about intelligence.
My beef? By focusing on achievement as measured by standardized tests, attention is directed toward students and not the systems that are responsible for the problem. When states shortchange urban (minority) schools, and communities neglect to provide an equal education for all students the fault really lies with the system. If communicators don’t focus on system failures, voters may not hold policy makers accountable.
More importantly, closing the achievement gap has been used as an excuse for more skill and drill and an almost exclusive focus on reading and math, to the exclusion of other meaningful subjects students need. And, it skirts the whole issue of the validity of these testing instruments in the first place.
Suggested replacements: School failure, Education inequality, learning resource inequity