Achievement gap forum held at U

A framework for reducing education disparity was presented.

by Andrew Johnson

The achievement gap between white students and students of color in Minnesota is so dramatic that it recently got the attention of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
On Monday, education advocates from across the state came to the University of Minnesota to address and explore possible solutions to the gap âÄî which Duncan criticized as one of the nationâÄôs worst in a Jan. 21 speech to the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.
Administrators, professors and students gathered at Coffman Theater to hear about a proposed framework developed by Strive, a nonprofit initiative. The âÄúStriving to Close the GapâÄù forum was sponsored by the University and the African American Leadership Forum.
Strive, originally based near Cincinnati, works to eliminate differences in student achievement, not just through academic means, but also personal and social ones.
The forum included a presentation from Jeff Edmondson, executive director of Strive, and Nancy Zimpher, chancellor of State University of New York, who outlined what they described as a roadmap âÄúfrom cradle to career.âÄù
The framework follows certain goals and indicators that begin at birth up until the student graduates from some form of college. Strive does not reform a city or regionâÄôs education practices.
âÄúStrive is about identifying what already works in your community,âÄù Edmondson said. âÄúIt doesnâÄôt look to replace them, but shine a light on whatâÄôs good.âÄù
By being more evidence-based and fact-driven, Strive is able to establish benchmarks to help students, Zimpher said. It allows for the information to be more broadly applied but still target specific areas.
Last week, Edmondson was in Washington, D.C., meeting with representatives from more than 30 cities interested in implementing the framework. Boston, Houston, Portland and Memphis, among others, already have partnerships with the Strive system.
During a question-and-answer session after the presentation, Strive was met with approval and disapproval. Edmondson and Zimpher fielded all questions and said they encouraged that type of discourse. All the communityâÄôs perspectives have to be incorporated and brought to the table, they said.
Attendees were asked to fill out a feedback form based on their thoughts on Strive and its implementation in the Twin Cities.