education | November 18, 2012

Reframing the Achievement Gap: Education Speaker Pedro Noguera

"I would say that the most pressing issue today facing the country is inequality," education speaker Pedro Noguera explains in a recent Q&A, "and the achievement gap is an educational manifestation of inequality." One of the leading experts on public education, Noguera was recently interviewed in Context magazine (a publication through the American Sociological Association) where he explained that social and economic disadvantages are major factors affecting the success of students. While most schools are hesitant to address out-of-classroom factors, he explains that helping children succeed means that anything impeding their learning has to be corrected.
"Mainly, you have to think in terms of compensating for the disadvantages that affect the learning and development of children," he says. "For example, you have to think about extending learning opportunities after school such as summer school. You have to think about reducing class size, because we know that when teachers who are capable teach smaller numbers of kids, their ability to reach their kids goes up." Further, he argues that providing full-service schools with daycare and health clinics can be extremely beneficial.

Noguera believes that success is both a school issue and a social issue, and factors on both sides of the spectrum—such as family income and support as well as pupil spending and teacher effectiveness—must be combated to reduce the gap in achievement seen in many schools. Seeing success as a holistic problem that has many contributing factors will allow for major necessary changes to be made. Noguera is currently the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education and the Co-Director of the Institute for the Study of Globalization and Education in Metropolitan Settings. He is also the Professor of Education at New York University and a part-time high school teacher. It is his unique combination of working both in the classroom and in policy development that gives him such a unique perception on education. In his keynotes, he uses both his in-depth research as well as his hands-on experience to show audiences what the education system looks like today—and what we must do now to improve it for tomorrow.

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