Bridging the Mathematics Achievement Gap in Struggling Urban Schools
Academic Leadership - Online Journal,
Vol. 8 No. 2 (2007): Vol-8-Issue-2-February-2007
Despite massive and costly efforts nation-wide, the majority of high-poverty schools –especially those
with predominantly minority populations – are failing their students. The majority of failing schools are in
urban areas. The Council of the Great City Schools, a coalition of 65 of the nation’s largest urban public
school systems, conducted a national study to determine the impact of school reform on urban schools.
Its findings show that urban school achievement is far below the national average in math. Only 10.7%
of these school systems are at or near state averages in math (Duvall, 2004).
As a result of school reform efforts, many school districts report that gains have been made in students’
math scores in the elementary years. But America’s high-poverty middle and high schools remain in
crisis. Beyond the elementary years, students in the nation’s high-poverty schools are failing. For
example, despite years of school reform, math achievement in Detroit has declined in the last five
years. For example, 25% of Detroit’s high school students scored proficiently on statewide math tests
in 2004 – as compared with only 16% in the most recent reports. ( www.schoolmatters.com). At the end
of high school, Hispanic students’ reading and mathematical skills are comparable to those of white 13
year olds (Keller and Garcia, 2006). And in many areas, the achievement gap between black and white
students has actually widened in recent years (Loveless, 2007).