Advancing Equity: Removing Roadblocks to Achieving High Academic Standards


Advancing Equity: Removing Roadblocks to Achieving High Academic Standards

November 4–5, 2011
Princeton, N.J.


In the United States, public education is expected to offer equal opportunity to all children — preparing them to succeed in their postsecondary education and professional career as well as enabling them to contribute to advancing their society. Our nation is struggling to fulfill this promise for too many, especially the economically disadvantaged and historically underserved children of color.

Achievement and opportunity gaps among races and socio-economic status population groups become apparent in preschool. These gaps persist through elementary and secondary grades and continue into college. In too many communities across America, socio-economic status, race and gender are associated with limited educational opportunities and lesser outcomes.

A high-performing and equitable education system is key to the health and well-being of our democracy, as well as our ability to successfully compete in the global economy. Seemingly intractable and complex problems, especially in high-poverty communities, require new ideas and strategies to deliver the quality education needed for underserved and underperforming students along with their schools.

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. In addition, new assessments of teaching and learning will be needed to gauge progress and success in schools. The pursuit of equitable access and opportunity for all students to achieve high standards is the hallmark of the work of the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE), The Education Law Center (ELC), Educational Testing Service (ETS) and the National Urban League (NUL). These four organizations convened a November 5, 2011 symposium "Advancing Equity: Removing Roadblocks to Achieving High Academic Standards" that focused on the nation's investment in content and resource standards that are needed to achieve educational excellence for all students regardless of social class, locale, race or gender.

At this symposium, scientific and practicing experts as well as education stakeholders grappled with academic, fiscal, and program investments — including standards and structures — that are necessary to fully achieve equitable educational opportunity. Participants placed special emphasis on identifying actions and strategies needed to help historically underserved communities and students achieve and succeed in the 21st century. They also sought clarity concerning meaningful education reforms, policies, and practices to improve the nation's public schools — particularly those serving our most vulnerable communities and students.

Highlights from the symposium can be found in the Summer 2012 issue of ETS Policy Notes — Advancing Equity: Removing Roadblocks to Achieving High Academic Standards (PDF) (Vol. 20, No. 2).

For further information about this conference, contact Maria Korzec at or call 1-609-252-8687.


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