Address Widening Achievement Gap
the billions of federal dollars that have been poured into education
in the U.S. since the enactment of the Elementary and Secondary
Act (ESEA), there is a still widening gap between the achievement
levels of students, which generally occurs along the lines of
socioeconomic status. In an effort to close the achievement gaps
among students across the country, the federal government in 2001
passed the reauthorization of the ESEA, “No Child Left Behind”
(NCLB). The legislation was intended to spark sweeping changes
to federal educational funding and accountability measures by
putting the pressure of raising student achievement squarely on
the backs of state, district, and school administrators. While
the government’s efforts have been lauded as a positive step towards
reforming the U.S. educational system, many state and local educators,
on whom the majority of the burden of accountability falls, have
been left without the tools and/or guidelines to achieve compliance
with the ESEA.
need for tools to address the ESEA, companies within the education
space have stepped forward with innovative products and solutions,
ranging from student information systems to assessments to curricula.
Many vendors are now claiming that their products are “NCLB solutions.”
However, it is still unclear which vendor solutions will truly
assist educators in closing achievement gaps. Beyond stamping
a self-selected seal of approval on their products, it will be
increasingly important for vendors to provide tools that allow
educators to address student achievement at the classroom level
and on a student-by-student basis.
A number of companies
have developed products that can provide immediate and continuous
feedback in order to diagnose students’ comprehension immediately
and adjust instruction and course materials accordingly. Among
them are Carnegie Learning’s Cognitive Tutor, eLearning Dynamics
platform LearnTrac, Scantron’s Classroom Wizard, Texas Instruments’
TI-Navigator, and LearnStar’s software solution. Many teachers,
though, may be wary of incorporating such comprehensive technologies
into their classrooms. It will be incumbent upon the providers
of these new technologies to validate the impact of their products
on student achievement. And, in order to accelerate growth, vendors
will need to add substance to their own ESEA solutions marketing
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