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What is the Achievement Gap?

As school closures began in March of 2020, low-income BIPOC students – students who have already faced discrimination and educational inequality throughout their academic careers – began to battle new and complex issues. With the effects of COVID-19 further widening the achievement gap, we want to delve deep into the topic, as it plays an integral role in Educate. Radiate. Elevate’s mission as well as the well-being of our society.

The beginning of quarantine was a time of uncertainty and chaos – and it affected everyone individually. We’re sure that you will remember your struggles and can empathize with those who struggled in similar, albeit different, ways. When school closures began, students were expected to continue their classes remotely, and their parents became their co-teachers. Often their parents were also working full-time while also trying to help their children with subjects they had little to no expertise in. This was combined with engagement and technical issues related to remote learning – all of which was compounded in students who were already behind their peers and/or have learning disabilities. This continued far past quarantine. Many immunocompromised students and families were required to remain remote as a way of reducing their risk of exposure to COVID-19. 

Now, imagine low-income BIPOC students attempting to conduct their studies virtually from home. Many of these students do not have wifi access, and their parents often work multiple jobs and are not available to assist them with schoolwork. Their lives, households, and communities are usually full of distractions – some being life or death – that are out of their control. These children have already begun at a disadvantage, many of them growing up with trauma, facing discrimination because of their race, learning English later in life as their second language, having undiagnosed Learning Difficulties, and/or being educated in an environment that does not provide them with the additional help they may need. Because of these inequitable disadvantages that plague communities of color, many of these students perform much lower academically than their more privileged peers. This inequitable difference in students’ access and opportunities is what makes up the “Achievement Gap.”

Although some efforts are being made by the schooling systems to close this gap, data included in the Addressing the Math Achievement Gap of Socio-Economic Disadvantaged Students through Intervention publication indicates that “the achievement gap prevails as socio-economic disadvantaged students continue to fall further behind in developing the foundational knowledge and skills needed to achieve upper-level course work.” Statistically, students of low-income BIPOC backgrounds earn lower scores and drop out of school earlier in life. This is a direct result of their achievement gap, which gives them an unfair disadvantage from the beginning. 

Unfortunately, the nation’s achievement gap has been widened even further because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students who began their schooling at a disadvantage have not had access to learning support and resources, and they are now a semester, a year, or even multiple years behind their peers. This makes Educate. Radiate. Elevate.’s mission substantially more urgent. According to the NLDC’s Exploring Intersectionality article, “the economic, social, and learning challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic reinforce knowledge, including from the science of learning and development, about how important it is to ensure that all students experience belonging, safety, and support in order to learn.” And we can all agree that a high-quality education is the first step to lasting change.

Educate. Radiate. Elevate. provides tutoring for low-income BIPOC students in grades K through 12. We supply our students with access to wifi and tablets if needed and tutors who are trained to approach them with specialized teaching that focuses on the root of what is causing the student to struggle. Our tutors recognize that students learn in different ways, so each student receives individualized instruction that reflects his/her cultural background and includes learning methods to help them improve their underlying learning and life skills. Educate. Radiate. Elevate. is going beyond offering equal opportunities for all students: we’re attempting to achieve educational equity, providing high-quality support for our most vulnerable youth. If you feel a pull to join our mission to close the achievement gap and attain educational equity, we would love your support! Our website allows donors to make a one-time or monthly contribution. Donations fund specific aspects of our tutoring program, such as technological access for students, training for tutors, and one-on-one lessons for students. Join us in our mission to educate equitably, radiate success, and elevate society!

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