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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

Multiracial group of teachers walking in school hallway. Image credit: iStock i

Strengthening the Principal Pipeline through State Leadership Academies

Missouri, Delaware, and North Carolina have developed evidence-based professional learning for current and prospective school leaders to increase their effectiveness and reduce turnover.
A multi-ethnic group of seven children standing in a row in a school hallway, laughing and smiling at the camera. The little boys and girls are kindergarten or preschool age, 4 to 6 years. i

State Advances in Early Childhood Education Seed Plans for 2024

In 2023, several states made significant strides toward universal pre-K, increased funding and support for early educators, and improved literacy and math instruction.
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Curriculum That Counts

Authors in this issue of the Standard draw lessons from a spectrum of state policies that are being used to increase the adoption of high-quality curriculum.

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