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NEPC Review: Our Immense Achievement Gap: Embracing Proven Remedies While Avoiding a Race-Based Recipe for Disaster

This report misrepresents and then criticizes recommendations from the Minnesota Department of Education, a think tank and two independent study groups, each of which recently encouraged particular voluntary efforts to reduce concentrated poverty and achieve racial and socioeconomic integration in schools and housing in Minnesota. In building its case against the recommendations of these bodies, this report sets up and attacks two straw men—“busing” and “lawsuits”—neither of which was recommended by the organizations. The author relies heavily on selected research literature to make the report’s arguments but ignores dozens of the most important peer-reviewed research studies that suggest strong relationships between racial, ethnic, and economic diversity and desegregation and academic gains. It also relies heavily on anecdotes about desegregation policies and funding-equalization efforts in several states. While endorsing accountability-based reforms of the sort implemented in Florida, it fails to fully explore what is actually known about the results of such policies. Investigations into the programs in Florida strongly suggest that claims of success about the state’s accountability measures and teacher-accreditation practices are often unsubstantiated or exaggerated. In attacking the wrong targets, the report distracts rather than focuses the attention of policymakers seeking to close the achievement gap. 

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