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May 2015Volume 15, No. 2
Unfinished Business: Addressing Unequal Opportunities in Education

Student achievement gaps in the United States have persisted, though not at static levels, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. And while the degree to which any particular factor gets blame or credit for widening or narrowing the gaps is debatable, the authors in this issue of The State Education Standard agree that differences in educational opportunity play a key role. Schools and state policymakers, they say, can control and address many of these variances head on: teacher distribution, funding, and access to early education, for example. This issue of the Standard looks at these factors and more.

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Editor’s Note

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News & Notes

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Unfinished Business: Addressing Unequal Opportunities in Education.

As schools retool to prepare students for an economy in which critical thinking and collaboration are paramount, will all students share the benefits?  

By Peter W. Cookson Jr.


The Promise of Policy: Holding Us Accountable for Helping All Kids Achieve.

Debates about reauthorizing No Child Left Behind and student testing risk obscuring the law’s central purpose: to ensure that all students have equitable opportunities for K-12 learning.

By Sonja Brookins Santelises


Leaping the College-Ready Gap: What Can Be Learned from Schools That Focus on Deeper Learning

Eight schools from around the country demonstrate how to close the gaps for Latino and black students in beginning and finishing college degrees.

By Monica Martinez and Dennis McGrath


Arkansas’s Fight for Real Equity Arkansas made notable, measurable progress in providing students an adequate and equitable education.

What will it take to close remaining gaps?

By Jay Barth


Attracting the Best Teachers to Schools That Need Them Most Some high-needs schools are doing what it takes to recruit well-trained teachers and keep them. By Kate Walsh, Hannah Putman, and Autumn Lewis


How Black Boys with Disabilities End Up in Honors Classes While Others without Disabilities End Up in Special Education

Nowhere is the gap more acute than in the educational experiences of male black students, who are also more likely to face exclusionary discipline, school-based arrest, and be placed in special education.

By Ivory A. Toldson and Kimberly D. Charis


Can State Policy Deliver Equitable and Adequate Funding? If a state gets serious about funding schools equitably and adequately, will it see results?

Pennsylvania provides a case in point.

By Rand Quinn and Matthew P. Steinberg


Early Learning: Unintended Consequences of the Push to Close the Gap by Increasing Quality

Despite bold moves to increase access to quality early learning, gaps persist.

By Phil Sirinides


Mind the Gap: Just Be Sure It’s the Right One

The achievement gaps that matter most to students reflect the spectrum of educational opportunity, not just differences in test scores.

By Ace Parsi


The NASBE Interview: Margaret McKenna


Featured Items

Young girl at fountain. Image credit: iStock i

Using Federal Funds to Remediate Lead

This NASBE analysis highlights ways state leaders can leverage the current policy climate and available federal funds to better support school districts in lead remediation so that all children have access to clean drinking water in schools.
Image Credit: iStock i

The Role of Schools in Racial Justice

Authors in this issue argue schools can progress toward educational equity only if, at every challenge, state leaders are willing to make decisions that put the needs of our most vulnerable students first.

Paolo DeMaria Selected as NASBE’s Next President and CEO

DeMaria most recently served as Ohio’s superintendent of public instruction and brings 30 years in state education policymaking, organizational leadership, and strategic planning to NASBE. He becomes NASBE’s president and CEO in January 2022.

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