The achievement gap in education refers to the different levels of academic performance of students from a variety of racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds. The lack of access to high-quality education in a child's early years has a deep and enduring impact on development and academic achievement.

How the Achievement Gap Affects Our Children

Public education is expected to offer equal opportunity to all children — preparing them to succeed academically, in the workforce and ultimately in their contributions to society. Our nation is struggling to fulfill this promise, especially for the economically disadvantaged and historically underserved children of color. A high-performing and equitable education system is key to the health and well-being of our democracy, as well as our ability to compete in the global economy.

These seemingly intractable problems require new ideas and strategies to deliver quality education to all students. What's critical to closing opportunity gaps in public education is an investment in setting high-quality standards for what all students need to know and be able to do in order to succeed in the 21st century.

What We're Doing to Close the Gap

Educational Testing Service (ETS) is deeply committed to closing the achievement gap through rigorous research that supports action, practical tools for real-life solutions, and the sharing of ideas, strategies and resources. Although the issues surrounding disparities in learning are complex, success stories are unfolding every day across the nation.

Groundbreaking Research and Innovation

The groundbreaking research ETS has conducted over many years into the causes and consequences of the achievement gap informs us as well as other stakeholders including institutions, departments of education, IHEs, local school districts and educators. Recent studies have delved into the role of the family environment in a child's educational development, positioning young Black males for academic success, and learning outside the classroom. The information and data ETS compiles is the basis for innovation through educational assessment, collaboration and outreach.

Thought-provoking Forums

ETS brings together leading educators, researchers and policymakers for symposia, conferences and workshops that facilitate the sharing of ideas, achievements and challenges, as well as practical strategies for education reform. For example, ETS's ongoing series of "Addressing Achievement Gaps" symposia examine the links between academic achievement and student background, and discuss ways to narrow gaps. Another example is our co-sponsorship of the Return on Investment (ROI) Convening with the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions (MSI), which generated valuable research on the topic. Read more about National MSI Return on Investment Convening >

Forging Partnerships

Forging partnerships with such dynamic organizations as the Children's Defense Fund (CDF), the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE), the Education Law Center (ELC), Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), the National Urban League (NUL) and the Center for Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) has brought greater prominence to achievement gap causes and consequences.

Together, we are championing universal education and bringing about the reforms needed to unlock the potential and optimize the talent of all our nation's children.