Defining the Achievement Gap

It doesn't take a college degree to see that there's a big difference in how well kids from different backgrounds perform in school. This Achievement Gap has been described by the U.S. Department of Education as "the difference in academic performance between different ethnic groups." The No Child Left Behind legislation was aimed at measuring these performance differences and making schools accountable. But the truth is, it takes much more than that. The Gap has both social and economical roots, and it's a problem that not only affects the futures of individuals, but costs our country billions of dollars a year. Without addressing these underlying factors, the very prosperity and leadership abilities of our country is threatened. Under the accountability provisions of NCLB, districts and campuses are required to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) as measured by three factors: Standardized tests scores in reading/language arts and mathematics, Graduation rates for high schools, Attendance rates for elementary and middle schools.

Root Causes

Intensive study has revealed that while many factors contribute to the problem, the sources for the gaps can be broken into two categories: those factors that occur at school which result in a gap between minority and majority students, and those that occur at home which result in a gap between low-income and higher income students. Education Is Freedom is a program that works to address the factors in both places.

Sources of the Achievement Gap

Beyond Academics

The Achievement Gap does not just relate to how well an individual performs in school, but how well they will perform in life. Statistics and studies have shown that those individuals who fall into the Achievement Gap are relegated to a life of low wages, poor health, and an increased rate of imprisonment. These consequences are far reaching and affect not just individuals, but the nation as a whole. An undereducated workforce means billions of dollars lost annually in GDP alone. And it's not just a domestic issue. Recent reports on international educational attainment show that the US is losing ground. During this economically challenging time, these and other findings should be the final catalyst for closing the achievement gap, domestically and globally.

Bridging the Gap

Adequate academic preparation is not enough. Many low-income students simply do not get the opportunity or support to develop the basic life skills needed to be successful in college and the business world.

To bridge the gap, Education is Freedom works within schools to address both traditional and non-traditional predictors of college success. The 360 degree program is dedicated to equipping students with the necessary skills to successfully complete high school and college, navigate the college entrance and financial aid processes, and access private and public scholarship funds. By showing students that college is a viable goal for them personally, EIF is making a huge difference.

Traditional predictors of college success:

  • High school GPA
  • SAT/ACT scores
  • Limited absenteeism
  • Co-curricular involvement
  • Rigorous course load in high school
  • Immediate matriculation into college following high school graduation

Other predictors of college success include:

  • Self efficacy - the belief in one’s self to succeed
  • High self-esteem
  • Familiarity with college culture
  • Family and community support
Learn How We Do It

1 Barton, Paul E. (2003). Parsing the Achievement Gap: Baselines for Tracking Progress. Educational Testing Service, Policy Information Center. Retrieved May 12, 2009, from
2 McKinsey & Company (April 2009). The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in American’s Schools. Retrieved May 12, 2009, from
3 McKinsey & Company (April 2009). The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in American’s Schools. Retrieved May 12, 2009, from
4 McKinsey & Company (April 2009). Detailed findings on the economic impact of the achievement gap in America’s schools. Retrieved May 12, 2009, from
5 NCLB State Report Card 2007-2008. Texas Education Agency, Division of NCLB Program Coordination (2009). Retrieved May 12, 2009, from