FCPS defines an achievement gap as the difference between our highest performing sub-groups (usually White/Asian) and all other sub-groups of students. The first focus of the Closing the Achievement Gap Plan is the White/Asian and Black/Hispanic gap. The achievement gap will be considered closed when the disparity in academic achievement between the two groups no longer exists.
We believe closing the achievement gap is important because it impacts the future wellbeing and success of individuals, of local communities, and of our country. Closing the achievement gap has been called the civil rights issue of the 21st century. Under-educating certain groups of students leaves them economically poor, which leaves them less ready to compete and contribute in a new global economy where the talents and critical thinking skills of every citizen will be needed to maintain our country's influence internationally as other countries develop at an extremely fast pace. Success in education plays a major role in increasing employment rates, lowering poverty rates, preventing crime, and decreasing violence. We believe it is a legal, political, economic, and moral imperative to close the achievement gap.
The achievement gap is being addressed aggressively in FCPS and is an important goal for the whole division. A comprehensive plan to close this gap is underway. Specifically the plan includes a detailed chart of programs and initiatives tied to closing the minority student achievement gap in FCPS. Several of these initiatives are already part of the school system’s academic plan; others have been added or created to help achieve the plan goals. Each of the programs have an outcome measure explicitly linked to closing the gap – the expectation is that each of the listed programs will help contribute to ensuring high academic achievement for the targeted minority student populations.
Further, the entire division is now working toward the goal of closing the minority student achievement gap by raising the academic performance for our black and Hispanic students. In developing the plan several key structures are established including: a specific framework focused on Content, Pedagogy, and Relationship; a common glossary of terms; and the creation of a steering committee made up of community member and FCPS leaders responsible for leading and guiding the project team toward success.
The Closing the Minority Student Achievement Gap Plan was created to bring division-wide focus and comprehensive commitment to closing the minority student achievement gap. The plan includes FCPS programs and initiatives that provide high yield results to close the gap. The project requires each program/initiative manager to develop a focus, actions steps and timeline, and measurable outcomes for specifically closing the black and Hispanic achievement gap.
Three overarching student achievement goals provide a framework for the school system in its work of educating students. Goal 1 focuses on academics; it states “…Academic progress in the core disciplines will be measured to ensure that all students, regardless of race, poverty, language or disability, will graduate with the knowledge and skills necessary for college and/or employment, effectively eliminating achievement gaps.” Differences between assessment results for our highest performing subgroups (usually White/Asian) and other subgroups are tracked and included in Student Achievement Goal I reports submitted each year to the School Board.
In addition, measurable outcomes for each school year have been identified for all programs and initiatives tied to closing the minority student achievement gap in FCPS. Progress toward achieving those measurable outcomes will be reported for each program or initiative included in the plan. Data from the programs/initiatives are summarized and reported quarterly to the steering committee.
Director, PreK-12 Curriculum and Instruction
Director, Language Acquisition and Title I
April 26, 2013