U.S. education leaders have spent decades highlighting and attempting to close achievement gaps, focused especially on the gaps between African-American and Latino students compared to their white and Asian peers, as well as the gaps between low-income students and others.
But that focus can overlook the struggles in much wealthier areas: 55 percent of African-American students and 54 percent of Latino students attend schools with low or moderate poverty rates. In these more economically and racially diverse schools, students of color and low-income students fare better than in high-poverty schools—but they still face large achievement gaps.
Education leaders must adopt more complete approaches to outstanding learning for all, secure and healthy learners, and a culture of equity within low- and moderate-poverty schools.
A shortfall in any of these three areas within a school magnifies the impact of unequal access to resources—educational, personal, and sociopolitical—outside of school.
We base these recommendations on a thorough examination of research. Importantly, we examined approaches that had evidence of boosting outcomes for disadvantaged students without reducing availability of advanced instruction, for two reasons. First, when all students have help to leap ahead, all need what today is considered “advanced” instruction. Second, schools that serve all students well, regardless of background, build strong family and community support for and commitment to public education.