To ensure all students achieve academic success, research and discourse on effective education reform must confront chronic underperformance in schools, particularly among minority and high-needs students. In recent years, focused attention on improving student achievement has lead to an increased emphasis in schools on high standards, assessment of student outcomes, and stricter accountability for performance. While reform has led to a greater understanding of students' progress in obtaining measurable skills and knowledge, it has also heightened awareness of a large proficiency gap in school preparedness and academic achievement. Dedicated work by education leaders and educators has helped advanced strategies for accelerating student learning, but questions remain about the appropriateness and accessibility of non-traditional approaches to schooling. Candid discussion is still needed on how potential "models of success" can best address promises of equity and upward mobility inherent in our educational system.
The Rennie Center's Proficiency Gap study area examines policies and programs designed to produce academic gains for all students, especially those whose performance lags behind their peers, including: standards and assessment, turnaround schools, STEM, English language learners, and children with special need.