An early end to the achievement gap

Dr. Roger Harris | 6/22/2010, 9:18 a.m.

The effort has resulted in dramatic improvements in student achievement. Renaissance now bests statewide MCAS averages in third grade English. Last year, 79 percent of Renaissance third graders scored “advanced” or “proficient” on the reading portion of MCAS compared to 36 percent in 2002. Proficiency rates in Grades 4, 5 and 6 have also increased dramatically over the past several years.

The academic gains were also evident in the school’s math scores — 66 percent of our third graders scored advanced or proficient last year, compared to just 36 percent in 2006. Fifth grade math proficiency climbed from 18 percent in 2006 to 57 percent in 2009.

The school made “adequate yearly progress” under the federal “No Child Left Behind Act” for all subgroups in both English and math in 2009. Only one-third of all public schools statewide achieved that goal.

The success of these early education and intervention programs provide a road map for how the achievement gap can be conquered. Just as they provide children with a strong educational foundation to succeed, they can also provide a solid foundation on which to build urban reform efforts across the country.

 Dr. Roger Harris is the superintendent of the Boston Renaissance Charter Public School, which educates more than 1,100 children in Grades Pre-K through 6 in Boston.