For decades, the provocative and challenging task of closing the achievement gap has remained one of the most discussed and argued issues within the U.S. education system. By definition, the achievement gap speaks to disproportionate rates of achievement that have long existed and continue to exist between white students and those of color.

Some would argue that the task at hand remains closing the gap. But the more salient issue points to correctly identifying those factors which contribute to the achievement gap and then devising ways in which those factors can be addressed and resolved.

Five primary factors have been cited by most education professionals that contribute to the equity gap including: socioeconomic status, neighborhood segregation, parental influence, school discipline and standardized testing. Test scores and graduation and dropout rates confirm the severity of the issue and how the gap routinely leads to two distinct and uneven playing fields for students of color and whites.

Now, as experts feared, scores of reports and recent data indicate another major factor that has joined the list of reasons for the equity gap – the substitution of in-class instruction with remote learning.

As the coronavirus continues and virtual learning remains the primary, if not exclusive means of educating youth, most research concludes that students of color and those in low-income communities have fallen further behind their peers.

Indeed, the achievement gap in American education has grown even wider.

But all children have been negatively impacted by remote learning. Since the spring when schools first shut down and then later reopened with remote learning, white students, on average, fell behind by one to three months in mathematics. Students of color, in comparison, lost three to five months.

Thus, we face yet another conundrum in our nation’s educational system as factors and issues, of which they have no control, serve to derail the efforts and defuse the dreams of innocent students of color.

Ironically, experts seemed to easily identify the challenges that would come with remote learning models and practices. Too bad they couldn’t go one step better – finding solutions.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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