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The Education Achievement Gap: Minnesota's Embarrassment
The Achievement Gap: Idea Generator
September, 2004

The Education Achievement Gap

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4.5 rating
(16 votes)
Teach American Sign Language along with language arts classes
One of the most cost-effective ways I see to bridge the achievement gap is to begin teaching American Sign Language (ASL) along with traditional language arts classes in schools and early childhood education settings.

This tool has been empirically demonstrated to significantly increase the size of African American children's vocabulary scores. A '92 study by Marilyn Daniels, professor of speech communication at Penn State University and author of Dancing with Words: Signing for Hearing Children's Literacy, found that additional sign language instruction brought the scores of African American students in her study close to those typically achieved by white students (normally 15 points higher).

Other researchers have found a 12-pt. average IQ score increase in children who have learned how to sign as babies and toddlers. I teach parents and Head Start teachers how to use this powerful tool with infants, toddlers and preschoolers with great success and believe schools should incorporate ASL.

Created on 09/22/04 by Denise Meyer of Woodbury, MN

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5 rating
(3 votes)
Closely study impact of performance and incentive pay
We should carefully study the impact of performance pay in the few test districts that have tried it, to see if it really works to increase study achievement (and close the gap). We should also use incentive pay to get good teachers into the toughest schools (read: urban schools with higher numbers of minority students). We need to reward the results we want.

Created on 09/20/04 by John Farrell of St. Anthony, MN

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4 rating
(7 votes)
Tracking dollars by school
Today the state allocates more dollars for poor or disadvantaged students. But it doesn't give the money to the students or to their schools.

The state sends the money to the district. The district then allocates money to schools. And in some cities the districts send more money to the schools with the less-disadvantaged kids - because these are the schools where the senior (and higher-salaried) teachers choose to work.

The public, parents, need to be informed about this. The information is there. The state now calculates the revenue the kids bring to their school, and reports this on its web site. And the state is now requiring districts to report expenditures by school - using actual rather than average teacher salaries. This will bring the intra-district disparities to light. Will the media publish this? Who will?

Created on 09/14/04 by Ted Kolderie of Saint Paul, MN

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