Minding the Achievement Gap One Classroom at a Time

Minding the Achievement Gap One Classroom at a Time

Minding the Achievement Gap One Classroom at a Time

Minding the Achievement Gap One Classroom at a Time


The achievement gap is a persistent and perplexing challenge for educators. While school- and system-level reforms continue to be discussed in statehouses and district offices, individual teachers are challenged to do something now to help students who are falling short of standards, including students who are English language learners and receiving special education services.

A companion to the ASCD best-seller Improving Student Learning One Teacher at a Time, this book identifies small, specific adjustments to planning, teaching, and assessment practices that will support more effective learning in every student, every day, and help close the achievement gap on a classroom-by-classroom basis. Here, you'll learn how to

• Use readily available tools--curriculum documents, a plan book, and a grade book--to improve all students' access to, interaction with, and mastery of lesson content.

• Design daily lessons that clarify learning goals and require students to use high-yield learning strategies, seek feedback, and reflect on their progress.

• Promote the progress of English language learners through coordinated pursuit of content and language goals, and synchronize instruction to improve the performance of special education students in both co-teaching and resource environments.

This book also features the voices of working educators who share how "minding the gap" has helped them engage academically at-risk students, ELLs, and special education students; improve students' test scores; and sustain these gains over time. If you are a classroom teacher or specialist committed to helping all your students become more successful learners and unwilling to wait for high-level solutions or even the results of another "data retreat," then this is just the resource you need.


Jill Cullis, a high school government teacher with 20 years of experience, remembers her epiphany clearly.

“I am told there is a moment in every person’s career that forever changes the perception each of us has about what we’ve done in the past and what we can accomplish in the future,” she says. “For me, that moment took place the day that Andrew Romanoff, then the Speaker of the House in the Colorado legislature, came to my class to talk with my students.”

Jill describes her school community near Denver, Colorado, as “disadvantaged urban.” She had been told that during Speaker Romanoff’s visit, he would be discussing new opportunities for high school students and the critical importance of finishing high school. He said he sought to have an “honest conversation,” and Jill knew he would certainly get that from her students.

Because Speaker Romanoff was not the first politician guest speaker to visit the class, Jill expected him to offer newly packaged nostrums involving technology, flexible schedules, and maybe scholarships to attend college. Fairly confident, Jill waited for her students to tell the Speaker what they always told her: they were typical teenagers who lacked personal motivation, their parents were too busy to participate in or support school events, and the state incentives would only interest the students who were likely to graduate anyway. But instead of offering platitudes tied to scholarships, Speaker Romanoff had an announcement and a question. “We are working at the state level to intentionally close the achievement gap, especially for students in schools like . . .

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