Schools of excellence and equity: closing achievement gaps through academic emphasis Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Benkovitz, Jen
    • Affiliation: School of Education
  • Currently, the debate in public schools centers on the achievement gap and is politically bathed in the language of equity and excellence. While research continues to suggest that our schools are plagued with inequities that perpetuate this gap and maintain the status quo, there are some schools that play a key role in raising student achievement for all students and in closing the achievement gap across socio-economic and racial lines. This study explored how K-5 elementary school principals of state recognized Honor Schools of Excellence are (or are not) pursuing, supporting, and achieving excellence and equity and sought to offer school leaders specific strategies for attaining this goal. For the purpose of this study, data were analyzed through the lens of Academic Emphasis. Schools with high levels of academic emphasis are characterized by high but achievable academic goals for all students, a belief that all students are capable of achieving these goals, an orderly and serious school environment, and an overall pursuit for academic success. Research demonstrates that academic emphasis is positively related to student achievement even after controlling for the socio-economic status of students. Drawing from this research, the Academic Emphasis framework used to analyze the data was organized according to the components of policies, practices, and beliefs. With these components as a template, three major themes emerged from the data – one regarding policy, one regarding practices, and one regarding beliefs. Within each of these themes, a number of sub-themes emerged. Each of these sub-themes is further divided into data from the small gap schools (SGS) and data from the large gap schools (LGS) to allow for a comparison and to shed light on policies, practices, and beliefs that result in both excellence and equity. The data analysis revealed similarities and differences among the small and large gap schools, each offering lessons for school leaders.
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  • In Copyright
  • Brown, Kathleen
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

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