January 15, 2010
Ten years ago, North Carolina officials vowed they would close or significantly narrow the racial achievement gap by the year 2010. Over the next two years, they created the Closing the Achievement Gap section of the Department of Public Instruction, formed a commission, conducted a year-long study, and released several reports that identified the root causes of learning gaps and offered recommendations to eliminate them.
Then for the next eight years, the state made only limited efforts to accomplish its ambitious goal. With every passing year, the Department of Public Instruction held fewer discussions about disparities between black and white students; between the poor and the advantaged; and among those living in rural, urban, and suburban areas.
The result is that in early 2010, the achievement gap remains stubbornly wide. American Indian, black, and Hispanic students continue to significantly lower standardized test scores than white students. They have higher dropout rates and lower graduation rates, are under-represented in programs for the gifted and disproportionally disciplined with suspensions and expulsions. Clearly, what attention and resources the state has put toward closing the achievement gap have been wholly inadequate, and tens of thousands of children have been deprived of a quality education as a result.