Opinion
Data Letter to the Editor

Achievement Gap Needs Further Study

April 16, 2012 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

The article “Data Show Retention Disparities” (March 7, 2012) reveals nothing surprising or especially new to those who have been around the education scene for a while or who are familiar with the recent reports issued by the Schott Foundation. It simply affirms what we have been aware of via anecdotal evidence or data from our local hardworking but unexceptional public schools.

Retention disparities along with dropout rates would seem to be part of the whole achievement-gap picture as pointed out by experts such as Robert Balfanz, who was quoted in the article.

It seems that the disparities in academic achievement based on race are often reported receiving front-page news, but disparities in academic achievement based on family structure are either seldom studied or reported with reticence. The work of Sara S. McLanahan at Princeton University suggests that if we were to study the various aspects of the achievement gap, comparing students growing up with both biological parents with students growing up in single-parent homes, we would also find significant disparities. Other than choosing our mate, there is little we can do about our child’s race, but it would seem that there is much we can do about whether or not he or she grows up in a loving home with both parents.

Just as it may be important to hammer home “the intersection of race and poverty,” as Mr. Balfanz says, it might also be important to hammer home the intersection between growing up without both biological parents and the achievement gap. As the father of three adopted children, my own experience, anecdotal evidence, and a smattering of things I have read over the years indicate that children are emotionally best off when raised by their biological parents, preferably both of them.

The key is that along with studies regarding the achievement gap and race and poverty, we need studies of the achievement gap and being raised by a single parent or stepparent. I believe they would reveal much.

Daniel MacKinney

Libertyville, Ill.

The writer is a retired high school teacher.

A version of this article appeared in the April 18, 2012 edition of Education Week as Achievement Gap Needs Further Study

Events

School Climate & Safety K-12 Essentials Forum Strengthen Students’ Connections to School
Join this free event to learn how schools are creating the space for students to form strong bonds with each other and trusted adults.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
Future-Proofing Your School's Tech Ecosystem: Strategies for Asset Tracking, Sustainability, and Budget Optimization
Gain actionable insights into effective asset management, budget optimization, and sustainable IT practices.
Content provided by Follett Learning
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Data What the Research Says What Does 'Evidence-Based' Mean? A Study Finds Wide Variation.
Fewer than 1 in 3 education interventions get consistent judgments on their evidence base from reviewers.
5 min read
photograph of a magnifying glass on an open book
Valiantsin Suprunovich/iStock
Data 'Hidden Homeless': A Key Measure of Homelessness Excludes Most Students
Federal agencies differ in how they measure homelessness—and many vulnerable students are left out.
3 min read
Photograph of a low angle view of children with backpacks climbing the school staircase.
E+/Getty
Data Spotlight Spotlight on Leveraging Data for Student Success
This Spotlight will help you learn how data can help schools target resources, explore how to improve instruction with data, and more.
Data What Superintendents Say They Need More of to Help Them Manage Districts
98% of those surveyed said better data would make them more comfortable making decisions.
2 min read
Image of a data dashboard.
Suppachok Nuthep/iStock/Getty