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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Closing the gap

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  • Frequently in the media, it is reported teachers are failing to close the gap in reading achievement between the dominant versus minority children. When test results are viewed, this does happen to be the case in looking at averages of pupils. There are, however, individual cases of minority pupils doing well in reading, just like the dominant group. However, the gap in average attainment is there and all pupils need high quality instruction. The playing field for minority pupils in home environments is greatly dissimilar as compared to others. The question arises,"Can minorities achieve as much as others when resources are lacking in the home setting?" The following then tend to be lacking:
    • Income levels to buy the necessities of life, including adequate and nutritious food, clothing and shelter.
    • Reading materials for children in the home setting, based on the interest and ability levels of pupils.
    • Safe neighborhoods for wholesome development.
    • Educational travel experiences to nearby and more distant places.
    • Good summer school experiences (this has been on the chopping block for many districts and states).
    • After school activities which are enriching and wholesome.
    The nation of Finland ranks at the top in pupil achievement in reading, according to international tests. They have a very low rate of pupils living at the poverty level. Pupils in suburban schools in the US do just as well or better in reading achievement. Those having difficulties in reading need to be in small class sizes, which is being hindered with budget cutting on the state level. With ten or less, the teacher might well provide a lot of attention to each pupil in remedial reading and provide for individual differences. These pupils, also, need assistance in word recognition techniques, vocabulary development, comprehension skills of subject matter in order to understand what is being read, as well as study habits to concentrate and achieve. All pupils need the best of instruction and guidance to attain well in reading as well as in other curriculum areas.
    — Marlow Ediger, North Newton
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