Larocque, M. (2007). Closing the achievement gap: The experience of a middle school. The Clearing House, 80, 157 – 161.
The state of Florida uses the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test to grade schools on an A – F scale. This study involved a Title I middle school in Florida that closed the achievement gap. Larocque operationalizes achievement gap as a school’s grade according to Florida’s accountability structure. She and colleagues administered three questionnaires to school staff and parents to identify the principal’s leadership style, to allow parents input, and to assess the effectiveness of the school’s use of data. The purpose of the study was to identify the factors that contributed to closing the achievement gap. The school moved from a D to B in three years. Larocque and associates attributed this improvement to the principal’s involving all stakeholders accountable as well as allowing all stakeholders to behave actively in decision-making. In addition, the principal was an instructional leader who used data to help guide instruction. Teachers and the principal collaborated regarding all aspects of school operations. Moreover, the principal established a welcoming, culturally attuned learning environment, taking explicit actions to involve parents and community members in the school and to help build teachers’ cultural competence. Finally, the principal acquired resources from multiple sources and used these resources to support instruction and to improve achievement.
??? The author of this article operationalizes “achievement gap” in terms of the grading structure in Florida. Do you consider Florida’s grading system a valid or appropriate barometer of achievement?
??? The notion of “achievement gap” is highly contested by some stakeholders. Some suggest that the typical contextualization along racial lines; specifically the gap between Black and White students, ignores other key factors. What are your thoughts about the achievement gap?