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Closing the Achievement Gap and Youth Development

Resources relating to youth development including the latest in best practices for youth development appropriate for educators and the general public.

Akey, Theresa M. Student Context, Student Attitudes and Behavior, and Academic Achievement: An Exploratory Analysis External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF), New York: MRDC (January 2006).
The study finds that the earlier schools and teachers begin to build students’ healthy self-awareness of strengths and confidence in their ability to do well, the better students will perform academically. This study suggests that perceived academic competence may play an even more important role than engagement in shaping achievement outcomes. The influence of perceived academic competence on both reading and mathematics achievement was between two and four times larger than that of engagement in school. These findings suggest that the earlier schools and teachers begin to build students’ confidence in their ability to do well, the better off students will be. This study found that two factors in the school context — supportive teachers and clear and high expectations about behavior — were key to enhancing the development of both perceived competence and engagement. Teachers whom students see as supportive and who set clear rules and guidelines about behavior help create an atmosphere in which students feel in control and confident about their ability to succeed in future educational endeavors.

Bernard, Bonnie. Turnaround Teachers and Schools External link opens in new window or tab. , Closing the Achievement Gap: A Vision for Changing Beliefs and Practices, Second Edition, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2003.
Resilience studies provide critical information to closing the achievement gap, because they give educators clear evidence that all children and youth have the capacity to be educated, and that teachers and schools do have the power to educate them successfully. Resilience research identifies the specific practices and beliefs of “turnaround” teachers and schools. Moreover, these studies are corroborated by research into the characteristics of teachers and schools that successfully motivate and engage youth, including those now labeled high performing, high poverty schools.

National Education Association Guide for Educators, C.A.R.E.: Strategies for Closing the Achievement Gaps External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF; 3MB), Third Edition, 2007.
This guide helps educators reflect on the causes of disparity in student achievement and explores ways to improve academic success using innovative, research-based instructional strategies and closing the achievement gap by focusing on culture, abilities, resilience, and effort (C.A.R.E.).

National School Boards Association, Council of Urban Boards of Education, Where We Learn External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF; 3MB).
In this study, students indicate their perceptions in five areas: school safety; bullying; trust, respect and ethos of caring; racial self-concept; and general concept. The study focused on the achievement gap between urban students and their non-urban counterparts, exploring programs that are helping students achieve, and bringing attention to successful urban schools. Major findings include that respect between teachers and students influence academic achievement and are imperative in maintaining an effective learning environment. Ideally, students will trust their teachers and teachers will respect students, but as this study found, the level of trust and respect between students and teachers decreases with age and varies according to ethnicity.

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