U takes new approach to reduce achievement gap

Danielle Korby

The University of Minnesota is taking a new approach to reducing one of the largest achievement gaps in the nation. The school launched a website last week that could help local K-12 school officials and policymakers easily access work addressing the educational achievement gap between white students and students of color from more than 130 University researchers. The Educational Equity Resource CenterâÄôs website combines information about University experts, research and programs centered on the gap âÄî which previously would have required multiple searches on the institutionâÄôs website âÄî into one database. President Eric Kaler announced the websiteâÄôs launch at his State of the University address Thursday. Educational psychology professor Michael Rodriguez said school districts can use the websiteâÄôs information to create programs that would help reduce the gap between test scores of minority and white students. R.T. Rybak, executive director of Generation Next, a partnership of organizations aimed at reducing the achievement gap in the Twin Cities, said educators may have had a difficult time navigating the UniversityâÄôs various databases in search of information about the gap in the past. âÄúItâÄôs not practical for that teacher to spend that much time navigating the campus,âÄù Rybak said. âÄú[The website] will create more of a one-stop shop.âÄù He said instructors can use the website to improve studentsâÄô social skills, as well as reading and math test scores. The website includes information about family social science associate professor Joyce SeridoâÄôs research on achievement gap data and work sheâÄôs done to help families understand the costs and benefits of going to college. âÄúBecause the solution is not going to be a simple one, itâÄôs going to require people from a lot of different disciplines and a lot of different perspectives taking their insights and working together,âÄù Serido said. Rodriguez said he hopes to add information to the site over time, like research from the UniversityâÄôs system campuses, to help address the achievement gap across Minnesota.