April 30, 2009
Statement by AFT President Randi Weingarten
On Parsing the Achievement Gap II
Educational Testing Service reported today on 16 factors, both in school and out of school,
that affect a child's opportunities for success.
WASHINGTON—This valuable report, Parsing the Achievement Gap II, reinforces the commonsense notion that there is no silver bullet in education reform.
ETS identifies many factors that affect a child's chance of academic success, ranging from birth weight to teacher experience, class size to child nutrition, quality of curricula to parent involvement, and teacher turnover to television viewing habits. By highlighting the significant impact of these diverse factors, the report makes crystal clear that our nation needs a comprehensive strategy that addresses both in-school and out-of-school factors to close achievement gaps and help all children fulfill their potential.
Any serious proposal to improve opportunities for the nation's children should include: better access to high-quality early childhood education; thoughtful approaches to attracting, retaining and supporting highly skilled teachers; standards-based tools for teachers such as curricula, professional development and assessments; and innovative ideas like community schools that provide wraparound services for students and their families. And with so many factors affecting kids' success, we need input from teachers, who see the cumulative effect of these factors every day. We must listen to what teachers tell us they need to succeed.
Even as we work to strengthen our schools and improve teaching and learning conditions, we must do more to address the out-of-classroom issues, including those identified in this report, that too often limit children's ability to reach their potential.
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The AFT represents more than 1.4 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.