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2011 Young Leaders Rising

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Our Community?

The Achievement Gap

How is it Affecting

A newspaper showcasing youth voice, action & engagement Shine On! is a publication of Community Education, Minneapolis Public Schools


About this issue:

Dear Shine On! By Evelyn Lagunas 6th Grade, Andersen Community School

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y name is Evelyn Lagunas. I am 11 years old, Hispanic and in the 6th grade. I know about the achievement gap and I study hard because my goal in the future is to become a doctor. Some people may think that I won’t be able to make it, but you never know how much somebody can achieve if they work hard.

Read on! —The Shine On! Youth Editorial Board

To me, the achievement gap does exist in Minneapolis. I can see it pretty much everywhere. The population of Hispanics and African Americans is very big and so is that of Caucasians. Often Caucasian’s income, however, is bigger than that of minorities. Because of this, usually schools with high populations of white students get more money for materials, which helps kids learn better. While some of the African Americans and Hispanic students’ parents work two or more jobs just to give us the basic things we need. The resources here at my school Andersen United Community School aren’t the best, but what we have is the way we learn. Most of the books in the classes are all torn up and ripped. We are hoping to get new ones. Some of the schools have better and newer materials than us. What I really don’t like about some of the students here at my school is that some of them don’t realize that education is really important to us and to

Definining & Understanding the Gap.... 3-5

What Does The Gap Look Like?...... 8-9, 16 Plans For Closing The Gap............... 12-15 This issue’s cover art by Shine On! Youth Editorial Board member Mackenzie Neaton.

Funding for Shine On! is provided in part by The Gannett Foundation.

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Check out our Service Learning website:

commed.mpls.k12.mn.us/ service_learning.html

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Keep the discussion going!

Interested in what you’re reading? Does it make you think of something that you want to share with us and with others? Then let us know; here’s how you can get in contact with us: Email: ShineOnLeaders@gmail.com Twitter: @ShineOnLeaders Tumbler: www.shineonmpls.tumblr.com Teachers: Find discussion guidelines for the paper on our website at: commed. mpls.k12.mn.us/Shine_On.html

Send submissions to:

Inside this issue: Student Perspectives On The Gap.... 6-7, 10

The fact that some kids want to study and some don’t affects the achievement gap as well.What really helps the gap is that some kids like me like to study and get good grades on their tests.When they get good grades it goes to the state and notifies the governor which next thing goes on the computer and stands out and shows people that Hispanics, African Americans, and the Native Americans have really good skills, even though some don’t! When it comes to kids who really don’t care about school, tests, and themselves, that really affects the school and most of all their own ethnicity. They sometimes make us look like we don’t care, while some of us kids do care! l

You are about to get a better understanding of the Achievement Gap from the perspective of Minneapolis’ own. We, the editors, have learned a lot about the Achievement Gap.We think it is important that, based on the feedback from your submissions, we have this discussion. We encourage you to read cover to cover, but for starters, here is a little road map for you: first we define and gather an understanding about what the Achievement Gap is. We then take a tour through the minds of youth from definition to personal perspectives and artistic expressions. Finally, we do not want to present this problem without presenting solutions.  We believe it is possible to close the gap and a lot of you have ideas of how to do that. It is important to keep this discussion going and really think about our system.

I personally don’t like the way in which some people think about Hispanics, African Americans and Native Americans. Just because you consider us minorities doesn’t mean we can’t achieve as much as Caucasians. I think we should all be equal. Of course some kids are smarter than others, but we can all be considered equals.

our parents. This is the only way we’re going to be able to make it in the future. Some of the kids at my school don’t think about it. I would really like it if they would start thinking about this.

Young Leaders Rising Managing Editors: Lily Thiboutot and Kelsey Schonning Design & Production: Kirsten Perry ShineOn! Youth Editorial Board: Yasmin Awale, Jalane Bekuto, Niklas Curle, Karis Pryor, Phoua Lor, Mackenzie Neaton, Ben Nordquist, Vanessa Phillips, Annie Wood Special thanks to: Janine Freij, Colleen Sanders, Jeri Ezaki, Kate Kampa, MPS teachers and employees, and all the student contributors.

Shine On! Submissions Minneapolis Community Education Youth Development 2225 E. Lake St., Minneapolis, MN 55407 eMail us: servicelearning@mpls.k12.mn.us Visit our website: commed.mpls.k12.mn.us/Shine_On.html

Special School District #1 Minneapolis Public Schools • Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis Board of Education: Jenny Arneson, Carla Bates, Jill Davis, Rebecca Gagnon, Lydia Lee, Richard Mammen, Alberto Monserrate, Hussein Samatar Superintendent of Schools: Bernadeia Johnson Director of Community Education: Jack Tamble An Equal Opportunity School District


Defining & Understanding the Gap

AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress): How the nation measures whether or not a school is improving their test scores from year to year. If they don’t improve, it affects how much money a school receives to teach students, and the types of programs they are able to offer. Charts taken from “MPS 2010 Adequate Yearly Progress Summary,” MPS Research, Evaluation & Assessment

Minnesota’s Gap Sam Hillyer, Grade 6 Anthony Middle School Teacher: Paul Sommers

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innesota’s gap is a huge problem in our education system. In this article I will share the reasons that cause this problem. The achievement gap is the difference between the highest test scores and the lowest test scores. One of the reasons for this gap is that the questions on the tests favor European kids. I researched childhood screening. One example

Support By Tamiya Walton,Grade 6 Anthony Middle School Teacher: Paul Sommers

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think the achievement gap is an issue between students who do well in school and students who don’t. I agree that the achievement gap exists in Minnesota and Minneapolis because at Anthony and other schools, some kids like me do very well in school and others don’t. I think some kids are guaranteed to succeed because some have more support and help from their parents and their community. So they do way better and they always succeed. Others who are guaranteed to fail do so because maybe they don’t have support or as much support as other kids. l

Where does the achievement gap exist?

I found was that kids from Native American culture when asked “What color is a banana?” would often answer sun. The tester would have to count this wrong because the only answer accepted is yellow. This repeats in grade school, middle school and high school, this is a part of every subject. I think one thing to do is have a wider variety of answers accepted when more of an opinion is involved. One other way to help solve this issue is to have more questions that the kids of different cultures would be able to relate to.

By Shukri Hassan Edison High School Teacher: Amy Knowlen

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here does the achievement gap exist? The white students achieve higher and all other

groups achieved lower than white students on tests. So the achievement gap still exists in Minnesota. I think the cause of the problem is socioeconomic because if the students are poor, they might need to get a job in order to support their families. So they worry about how they

Another reason for our big gap is that we have a big difference in economic status. The kids coming from a wealthier family would have an advantage because they can afford to send their kids to tutors if they are struggling. Kids who come from not-aswealthy families would not be able to get extra help from tutors. One way to solve this problem would be to get more tutors into the schools; this would open up equal opportunities for every kid to get the extra help they need, so they can be ready for the tests. If we could get the extra tutors into the schools we would make our gap much smaller. I think the extra tutors will also help kids feel better about themselves because the kids would get higher test scores and that makes everyone feel better.

can figure out the problems in their families first before worrying about homework. Also, the ELL (English Language Learners) students are still learning how to speak English. It’s hard for them to pass the reading test because they don’t speak good English; that is the biggest problem that new immigrant students face in this country. But they are getting better; year after year their English skills are getting better. The achievement gap exists in Minnesota. It’s about black and white and other minority groups. White students scored the highest

If Minnesota solves these problems I think we will have a huge improvement in our gap. I think it will also help our schools overall. It’s very important we take care of these problems before our gap gets any bigger. l

level and all other groups were behind them. The new immigrant students are still struggling with the tests. l

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Defining & Understanding the Gap Chart below taken from “MPS 2010 Adequate Yearly Progress Summary,” MPS Research, Evaluation & Assessment

The Achievement Gap By Vanessa Phillips, Grade 12 North Community High School Shine On! Youth Editorial Board

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he world as we know it is advancing. Soon new technologies will be redesigned and things we believe now to be state of the art will become obsolete. Technology is not the only thing that is advancing, our educational system is too. The U.S.

Fill the Gap When you don’t understand something, When you’re in a tough spot and you’re embarrassed to ask, “What’s this?” “What’s that?” When you are afraid to ask and your teachers don’t notice. How do you succeed? When the pressure is on to win that grade. When the depression washes over you when you fail. The achievement gap is everywhere like a wild fire untamed. It eats up kindling or kids who just don’t get it, then it grows. Some grownups ignore that kid’s F, some just say “their fault” or “poor kid.” Some help, but too many Fs go without explanation. Maybe they were tired that day, possibly the dog died. These kids go unseen, they are the ones who are in the blind spot. These are the ones who only need that extra sentence from someone: “I will help.” All we need is encouragement and respect. We work just as hard as grownups and we all deserve a chance to succeed. All we need is a pick-up to fill the gap. —Zoey Norling, 6th Grade Anthony Middle School Teacher: Paul Sommers

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has some of the highest dropout rates in the world but also houses some of the greatest minds. Our problem is that while we have great thinkers, we still have people who decide that pursuing an education isn’t important. Those people are the future of this country, and as they choose not to focus on their education they condemn the country to fall behind in reaching its goals.This situation causes the “Achievement Gap.” By definition I was told by my peer, Ben that it is the “Difference in potential to achieve across borders.” These borders can include family situations, race and ethnicity, poor teacher quality, lack of funds, a lack of resources and so much more.

The gap does not always exsist because students do not wish to succeed, but that the resources to help them do not exist.

I see the achievement gap a lot within my own school, North Community High School, and in others. It affects us all. There are those students that are succeeding and are on track and there are those who are not. Why is this so? In one’s opinion it could be because, “That child just does not take their education seriously,” or “That child just does not try hard enough.” This may be true for a small percentage but it is much more than that. The gap does not always exist because students do not wish to succeed, but that the resources to help them do not exist.When I interviewed my peer Alysha Waddles she had this to say, “It can result from a lot of things. Parenting is one of the contributory causes. Without proper parenting, or a guardian that cares for your education it can be hard to focus. Love and support can ground a student mentally and can help them succeed. Teachers are another contributory cause. There may be teachers that are not teaching to the best of their abilities and are not taking enough time to make sure that all of their students grasp the material.” These are all valid points. Students need to have every resource available in order to succeed and if these things are missing, it can cause a rift in their ability to learn.

I agree with my peer because life revolves around education and money. To live comfortably, you need money.Your education is important and furthering it gives you a better opportunity to make more of the money that is needed to live comfortably. I believe that it is not the child that chooses not to stay in school but that it is because no one is teaching to them in a way that is interesting enough. That, in my mind, is the biggest contributory factor. When you have a student(s) that does not grasp all of the required material as well as everyone else does, teach to them in a newer, more exciting way. I see this problem in my academic environment now at North High School. We lack much including students, more money, space and time. All of our resources are stretched to capacity and we have no numbers to receive better funding to fix it. I believe that is why our gap exists. Without resources such as money and time you cannot possibly hope to accomplish fixing the gap. The achievement gap is something that can be fixed. It is like a nasty weed and we have to zap it at the root in order to fix the problem. The number of students who are succeeding compared to the number of those who aren’t are very distantly spaced apart and we have to do whatever we can to connect it. More tutoring sessions, more interactive student activities and more enthusiasm could be a start. l


Defining & Understanding the Gap

The Achievement Gap in the Suburbs By Niklas Curle Grade 9, South High School Shine On! Youth Editorial Board

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ou may think that the achievement gap happens only in the city, where inner-city schools sometimes receive $4,000 less per student than suburban schools. But even with all these resources, there still is a gap in achievement in suburban schools. Our suburban school for this analysis will be Edina, a normal suburban school. Let’s compare this to South, a pretty normal inner city high school. Let’s look at South’s numbers: 87.5% of students achieve the requirements for No Child Left Behind (NCLB), and every race is proficient in those same annual math and reading tests except AfricanAmerican students. As a whole, American Indian, LEP (Limited English Proficiency), and Special Education students score only 35% proficiency in other reading tests. And it’s even worse for math tests; of free or reduced priced lunch students (who a lot of the time live in poverty) and AfricanAmerican students, and the other groups mentioned before, only 25% are proficient. In science, Asian students, who were proficient about 58% of the time in reading and 70% of the time in math, achieved proficiency of around 35%, a big drop. Also, LEP students achieved proficiency at a very low 6% of the time. Now let’s look at Edina High School: 100% of the students achieve the requirements for NCLB. In other reading tests, all ethnicities achieve proficiency at least 90% of the time, except African-Americans and LEP and Special Ed students. There is an approximate 30% difference between the proficiency of White and African-American students, and 40% between LEP students and whites. In other math tests it is pretty much the same story, but this time, LEP students only achieve proficiency about 8% of the time, a very low number. The gap between White and LEP students is 70%. In science, the results are a little bit less consistent. Latino students achieve 60% of the time, down from 80% in math, and White students under-achieve Asian students, a rarity, since White students achieve proficiency in all other categories. I think there is an achievement gap in the suburbs. As I could see by the data, there sometimes is only a gap for one ethnicity or group, while others achieve proficiency. In both high schools, whites almost always achieved the most. In Edina, Asian, Latino, and White students almost always achieved proficiency. At South,White students always achieved the most. I suppose you could now call this the achievement gap between schools. It seems like students in the

suburban school always had consistently higher chances of succeeding. In South, everybody con-

There is a sort of invisible line and all races except White achieve at roughly the same percent. There are usually few circumstances where they cross this line.

schools have more resources, so they should be able to educate everybody equally, including people of color. But it seems as if they haven’t done that. There is a sort of invisible line and all races except White achieve at roughly the same percent, and there are usually few circumstances where they cross this line. This is definitely a sign of the achievement gap in the suburbs. Maybe if the education system would better fund inner city schools and support all students equally in their education we could give anybody, no matter where they go to school, an equal chance of succeeding and the ability to live a successful life. l

sistently achieved lower than students at Edina, no matter what their race. Sure, there are less people of color in the suburbs, but generally suburban

Early Childhood Education By Phoua Lor, Grade 12 Edison High School Shine On! Youth Editorial Board Based on an interview with David Heisted, Research, Evaluation & Assessment, Minneapolis Public Schools

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he majority of people believe that student’s academics are mostly important in high school, but studies now show that by third grade students must know how to read and by middle school must be able to do basic math in order to be academically successful. If students do not receive the proper education in their earlier years, it will make learning harder for them while in high school. School districts should concentrate more time and effort into providing more options for younger students and children to prepare for school, so that they can learn effectively once they get into the classroom. By providing more options for younger students, it will help close the gap, because students will be coming into school with equal chances of succeeding, which enhances their education. Everyone learns differently and at a different pace. By starting at the root of the gap, it will be easier to close the gap because all the missing information would be filled in. Early childhood education is just as important as high school education and it deserves to be focused on just as much. No one can learn

Charts above from “Achievement Gap Trends” by David Heistad, MPS Research, Evaluation & Assessment.

if there is no previous knowledge. Therefore, more money should be put into the education of elementary and middle school students in order to help prevent the achievement gap before it begins. l

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Personal Perspectives on the Gap

The Achievement Gap at Southwest Annie Wood, Grade 12 Southwest High School Shine On! Youth Editorial Board

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outhwest High School in Minneapolis was recognized in the past year as Minnesota’s best public high school by Newsweek. This honor is based on the strong staff, students, curriculum and extracurriculars at the school. As the district’s top achieving school, Southwest must be doing something right. It’s also the least-diverse school, and has the most students with the highest socioeconomic backgrounds. I decided to look into the Achievement Gap at Southwest, and talk to my peers to see where they saw it occurring. Certainly the academics at Southwest are excellent, with a strong International Baccalaureate Program. But we know that that’s not all that contributes to a school’s success. “Students at Southwest are really enthusiastic and have so much school spirit,” says senior Devon O’Brien, who attributes classroom success to motivation outside of the classroom. Also having access to a great College and Career Center and dedicated teachers makes a difference.

I’m Succeeding By LaToya Hall, Edison High School

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hen I think of not succeeding or lack of success, I think of my mother. The doubting, the yelling, and hurtful sayings, the “You ain’t gonna be nothing at all when you grow up, you ain’t nothing but a selfish girl that don’t deserve anything.” When I hear those sayings come out of her mouth, that makes me feel that what she says is true. Then it makes me act like it in school, it reflects on my work, attitude, and my smile that most love, and all my friends ask about me in the conference room. I just don’t know what to do. She stops me every time I think I’m going somewhere in my life. And I feel like I’m going to be where she left off in life. NOWHERE! But I know who I am and what I’m capable of doing. I’m going somewhere in life. I’m succeeding. l

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It may be easy to look at all of the successes of Southwest students and ignore the Achievement Gap. However, it is present.“I see [the Achievement Gap] at Southwest, particularly when it comes to the classes we take,” noted O’Brien. She found that

As global citizens, it’s our job to look outside of our bubble and know what’s going on and advocate for social change. there is a large divide between those who are on advanced tracks, like International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement, and those who are on regular tracks. The quality of teaching may be the same across the board, but the students who take the classes are not. The students who are in Advanced Placement classes and those in mainstream classrooms don’t often need to interact with one another, which creates separation amongst students. Sam Hills, a senior, noted the clear lack of diversity in all of his IB courses. He feels that despite attending a city school, he still is “experiencing very little diversity in my peers” and educational setting. He attributes this, in regards to the district’s graduation statistics, in general to the attendance area. “Southwest has, in my opinion, a higher graduation rate largely because it’s located in a more affluent neighborhood compared to the other city schools.” Despite Southwest’s great educational successes, the Achievement Gap takes a toll, as it does everywhere. One of the major costs is the loss of social cohesion, according to many students. “I care because I feel like I barely know the school I’ve been attending for four years, and I doubt I know half my class,” says Hills. O’Brien agrees, also stressing the importance of students knowing about the Achievement Gap outside of Southwest: “The all-around success of the district matters to all of us.” While it’s easy to look at Southwest’s statistics and community as a winning education system, I challenge students and the school to look deeper. It’s not enough that 98% of our students graduate. To be a truly successful school, no students should fall through the cracks of the system. Awareness also needs to be improved. Some students are noticing the cost of the Achievement Gap at Southwest, and it’s important to look at the bigger picture: What are the true costs of some students not attaining educational success? As global citizens, it’s our job to look outside of our bubble and know what’s going on and advocate for social change. Someday soon, we’ll be in charge of society.We need to work together to close the Achievement Gap. l

Always Try Hard & Never Give Up By Hodan Jama Edison High School Teacher: Amy Knowlen

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lways try hard and never give up.” These are the words my mom would say to me when I felt like giving up.

Why do some people judge others? When I moved to the United States I did not know how to speak or to write English. One day I was in class and my teacher asked me a question, but I couldn’t answer it because I was scared I did not know enough English. I thought they would laugh at me. A student came to me and said to me, “You’re stupid and you can’t even speak English.What are you going to do about that?” and laughed at me. I felt so sad I couldn’t even say anything. My teacher heard what the student was saying to me, and came up to me and said,“Don’t listen to her, she just wants you to feel bad.” Then I thought about what my mom used to tell me and I decided to study hard and do my best to learn English. My teachers helped me to succeed, and now I have learned a lot. I can speak English very well and I can answer the questions that my teacher asks me. l

Life is Tough By Jorge Riera Edison High School

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am still young but I feel like I am 45. There’s not one day when I can get my 8 hours of sleep. It’s not easy being a father at a young age. Being 16 and taking care of a baby, working hard every day that goes by. Sometimes I just think that school is a waste of my time, but I know I can do better. That’s why right after school I go home, see my baby and my girlfriend, and then get ready to go to work. My baby is the reason I keep my head up, but sometimes I feel that I’m unable to succeed because I’m always working hard to give my baby a better life than I had. I start working at four, then I get off at 12 am I get home at one, then I have to go to school. That’s why I’m so tired at school, but I try to keep going no matter what. I keep my head up, like if I was bleeding through my nose. I’m still young, and I keep going so my baby can have a better future. That’s why I keep going to school, so one day I can go to college. l


Personal Perspectives on the Gap

Everyone Faces Barriers By Chanraksmey Wat Edison High School

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barrier that keeps me from success is moving from place to place. I can’t feel focused on studying at all. I have to move from one school to another school, moving from one house to another house each year. Living in a house that we rent from somebody isn’t as easy as living in a house that we own. I get messed up every time we have to move. I get messed up with my studying, my school credits, and having to get to know new people, where I should go, and what I should do in the new school and new neighborhood. There is no way I can focus on studying; it is just so hard to get adapted to a new place. My grades are really low. l

Stopping Me By Wako Ebessa Edison High School

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o you think everybody has a barrier that stops him or her from being successful? There are three barriers that are stopping me from being successful: being shy, not speaking the language fluently, and seeing my dad work hard every day to keep me in school. The first barrier that stops me from being successful is that I always have a hard time getting up and speaking in front of people to tell them about my barriers. I’m always shy around people because of the different culture and the things other people do. For me it is really hard to get used to the American culture. I think when I speak in front of people that they might laugh at me and make fun of how I speak. The second barrier that is always in front of me is language. In the United States in order to be successful you need to know how to speak, read and write in English. When I speak to the teachers I’m less able to communicate because of not speaking English fluently. The third barrier that is stopping me from being successful is my dad who works hard every day to raise us. Everyday when he gets out of work, he barely comes home. Sometimes when I go to school and my dad goes to work no matter how tired he is, I think of quitting school and working instead of my dad. I think it is taking forever to finish school so I can get a job. Because of my dad I have less focus in school but he always works hard to keep me in school to achieve my dream and goals. I hope all of my barriers will get solved so that I can follow my dream goal. l

Life is Not Easy for Those Who Dream By Alarif Kalil Edison High School “Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.”

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have serious problems that can prevent me from success. My job that I worked after school is a problem that can take away from my study time. If I don’t study hard, my dream will be only a wish. But this is real; I have to be successful to help my family.

My success is their success and I will help them some day if my dream becomes real, when I graduate from college and get a job. I am wondering if there is anybody who helps their parents by working after school. The problem I face is how to effectively manage my time. I worked every day after school in the mall doing house-keeping. I started working my job at 4 pm. First I had to throw away garbage, which is heavy like a family of dinosaurs, and smells like dead fish. I started cleaning bathrooms and stairs before I

left at 9:15 pm. It took me 25 minutes to get home from my job. It was almost 10 pm when I got home every night. I tried to work on my homework after I ate my dinner, but it was not easy for me to do my homework every day, because I really got tired after my job. Sometimes I just gave up and went to bed. I woke up at 6:25 am to go to school and I asked my friends to copy their homework. I know this was not taking me far because I should study hard and give enough time to my homework. The reason I worked was because I wanted to help my little brothers who live in Africa. My dad’s income is not good enough to afford for my little brothers to go to private school. Their hope is on me and I want to be successful in my lessons and they also want to be successful in their lesson by getting a good education in a private school. I decided to stop working after school because my success is their success and I will help them some day if my dream becomes real, when I graduate from college and get a job. Only my job is a problem that can prevent me from success. I know life is not easy for those who dream about something that is so important. The important thing in my life is to graduate from college and my family. To help my family I have to be successful. So I decided to give full consideration to my lessons to be successful. l

What Happens When You Have Barriers? By Sindi Ortiz Edison High School

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id you know that a lot of students who came from other countries to the United States find it hard to be successful because they have lots of barriers facing them? Don’t be scared of the barriers that you find in your way—you know you can pass through. When you come from other countries to America you face a lot of barriers and sometimes it is so hard to pass through. My first day at Edison High School I was so scared, I wondered how in the world I was going to pass all these classes. Especially when I didn’t understand English and I didn’t have help from my family.When I entered my classes and saw my teachers, I was thinking,‘Someday the principal is going to kick me out of the school!’ Every time I didn’t understand what my teacher was saying in the class, I never asked because I was scared that the teacher would tell me that I was stupid and an idiot. One day, I wrote a very bad essay and I was

very sad because my grade changed from an A to a D. My teacher gave me another chance to write my essay, but there were a lot of words I didn’t understand. For the first time in my life I asked my teacher a question and I realized that I wasn’t scared anymore and I finally broke the barrier that was keeping me from success.

Don’t be scared of the barriers that you find in your way—you know you can pass through. Sometimes we are scared of the barriers that we have in our lives and we cannot pass through them because it is hard. But you have to know if you don’t break the barriers that keep you from success because you are so scared you are never going to succeed. l

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What the Gap Looks Like

What Does The Gap Look Like To You? By Nicole Booth & Jennifer Lee, 11th Grade, Patrick Henry High School

—Valeria Ramirez Lopez, Whittier School

My Dream Is it Disrespect?

Is it Listening?

Or Respect?

Or Not Listening?

To us, we think that even though good and bad things happen we still come together to unite…

What does it look like to YOU?

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My dream is to get the best education I can But how do I When I’m struggling with parents who fight? Can’t seem to get it right It’s not about them, but me So I’m suffering cause you see Neither of them finished school Who do I go to when I need help Can you see it’s not me, but them Who need to fix me Try to help me succeed Quit the fighting about money ’Cuz in a quick sec it can all be gone My life isn’t perfect I have a name and a family But what good is a family that fights? How am I to accomplish my dream with no support? I’m stuck with my parent’s dream A low-life loser All I know in my heart is I won’t be like them My kids are going to say, “My mom’s somebody.” It only makes me stronger, never going to break me I keep my head up in all hope Some stranger sees my pain and helps me Now can you tell me I’m not like them I got dreams, I will fulfill Notice I say I want it I will do it Put me down, I bring me up Cause if I say, I’ll be the best I can, I will Me, I got a big heart filled with belief See, do you think I got a chance? —Lisa Phanesri, AVID Edison High School Teacher: Amy Knowlen


What the Gap Looks Like

—Cecilia Sosa-Silvia, Edison High School

Flowers Some flowers have water and sunlight Some don’t. Some flowers have room to grow Some don’t. Some people don’t have what they need Some do. Some people don’t have support Some do. Everybody needs help Not everybody gets it. Some people think it’s okay When it’s not. Some people need help So let’s help them Give them what they need Support them Let them blossom

What’s the Real Problem?

Let them achieve.

By Darneshia Jones, 12th Grade, Patrick Henry High School

—Claire Pince, 6th Grade Anthony Middle School Teacher: Paul Sommers

Is it destiny that some people succeed & others fail? Or is it that some people just learn as fast as a snail? One side of the gap thinks school is a necessity The other side thinks “they’re just trying to get rid of me.” —Alex Alexander, Edison High School Read Alex’ s poem “Never Going Back” in its entirety on the Shine On! Website: commed.mpls.k12.mn.us/Shine_On.html

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Personal Perspectives on the Gap

What’s Causing The Gap?

You Can Do It!

By Chanraksar Wat Edison High School

dents who speak a different language at home don’t have someone to help with their reading, writing and other homework.

By Armoni Jackson Edison High School

id you know that Minnesota has a large gap in achievement between students native to the United States and immigrant students? I believe that the achievement gap does exist in Minnesota. The three reasons that the gap exists in Minnesota are socioeconomic problems, languages, and misunderstandings.

The last but not least problem is misunderstanding from their parents or other people in their family. In this situation some immigrant parents think that they brought their kids to this country for a better life by going to work and having a lot of money instead of going to school. Their parents think that going to school just wastes time and money for nothing.

Why is it that some students seem guaranteed to succeed and some seem guaranteed to fail? Why does it seem like students have no hope? Why does it seem like students don’t try?

I have seen a lot of immigrant students drop out of school because of socioeconomic problems in their family. The socioeconomic problem has to do with not having enough money. Most immigrant students said that socioeconomic problems are their biggest problems. Some immigrant families cannot afford to send their children to school, so they need their kids to go to work instead of going to school.

However, this problem is connected to the achievement gap between students native to the United States and immigrant students. In my opinion this situation could be solved by getting more immigrant parents involved in education and encouraging them to pay more attention to their children’s grades and what they do well and poorly in at school. One other thing that I think it could be helpful for immigrant students is to have the school provide more clubs that could help them more with phonics, comprehension, fluency, vocabulary, and phonemic awareness and school should get more minority student to be involved in these clubs. l

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An additional problem is languages. Numerous immigrant students are using their first language with their family instead of English. It is hard for students to understand math or science; even if English is their native language. Also some immigrant stu-

The Question of Success

Surviving

By Amanda Merritt Edison High School

By Aujhinaa B., Edison High School

What are the types of barriers you have to overcome in life for you to be able to succeed? Do you come to school every day, even when you don’t feel good or when something bad has happened?

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think the Achievement Gap does exist in Minneapolis. I think it happens because some kids in school don’t want to pay attention. But if you think about it, maybe somewhere down the line they didn’t get taught what they needed to be, or didn’t get to go to school.

Do you understand everything you do in school? Do you have a hard time understand what you are learning? Do you sit in the back of the class not raising your hand because you don’t want to say the wrong thing? Do you sit down in your room watching TV or texting on your phone instead of studying for your text the next day?

Maybe some kids are concentrating on surviving and that's why they’re not succeeding in school.

Are you around people that don’t have your back? Who always want you to do things that don’t help you in life?

Wait… Some kids out there don’t have any beds to sleep in. They probably don’t have any food in the house. They’re up all night crying, trying to figure out how they’re going to eat, fighting with their moms and dads who are trying to kick them out of the house. Spending the night at friends’ houses every other day. Or they might be at home taking care of their little brothers and sisters. Mom isn’t ever home, dad left a long time ago.

Did you get up one day and say you don’t need anybody who doesn’t have your back? l

Maybe some kids are concentrating on surviving, and that’s why they’re not succeeding in school. l

Do you feel like giving up but you try because you tell yourself you can do it?

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Why does it seem like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and the “Black Panthers” did all that HARD WORK and tried and tried and tried and even died for nothing? I don’t know… See what we don’t realize is that we are in school for a reason. We belong here, if we didn’t need to be here, why would we be? Why do people leave school? Why are there dropouts? I don’t understand… If you fail at something, won’t you try it again? If you don’t understand, try to make a plan to help and teach yourself and others who also don’t understand. Why won’t we listen in class? Why do we sit in class talking? Asking questions, asking questions, that’s what we need. If we don’t ask questions how will we succeed? I’m not sure… Sometimes we sit in class, learning of those who risk their lives everyday for you, for us, for us all…don’t you think it’s time for us to do the same? Who are you waiting for? What are you waiting for? You make the difference. You make the WORLD a better place. Don’t you believe in yourself? You can do anything you want if you put your mind, your heart, and every single cell you have into it! You, You have the courage, You have the confidence, You have the ambition, You can do it. l


What the Gap Looks Like

The Achievement Gap In Our Eyes By Pang Cheng & Sweet Vang, 12th Grade, Patrick Henry High School Students achieve differently due to the level of courses they take. For example, students who take easier classes may get an easy 100%, but those who take harder or more challenging classes may get a lower percentage. Is the Achievement Gap based on levels? Extra-curricular activities can help students gain confidence in other areas of their lives, and improve their academic achievement! In our experience, having a good environment would help us learn more. Having resources is also a way students can learn. Teachers are a big part of a student’s education. We don’t want teachers who are not prepared and lack knowledge of the subject.

Hale Afterschool Choir to Sing at Timberwolves Game

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he Hale afterschool choir will sing the national anthem at the Minnesota Timberwolves game February 5, 2011 at 7:30 pm. The choir will do this in conjunction with Field, the sister school to Hale. The Hale choir is composed of thirty-six students in Grades K-4; they are led by Patti Regan and Emily Regan. This group practices weekly as part of the Minneapolis Community Education Youth Program. They believe that getting involved in after school activities at an early age and showing your community what you can do is a great way to build confidence and began to take steps to improve one’s achievement. l

Why is testing the only way to judge a student’s achievement? Why can’t we do projects, or a worksheet to reflect our achievement? As students, we take many tests throughout school. We tend to get nervous; we think that nervousness affects our test results.

The Hale Afterschool Choir: Zacaria Blair, AmelieMichele Chatters, Sofie Clough, Madison Curtis, Amanda Flint, Yayra Fry, Britt Fulton, Elizabeth Gebhard, Olivia Goehring, Olivia Higgins, Lauren Hoogheem, Emma Hurbanis, Marjorie Johnson, Mowana Johnson, Aurora Kliewer, Hannah Klopp, Abigail Louk, Logan Love-Geist, Sohpie Macy, Aviva Milgrom, Ava Montout, Devon Nease, Gwendolyn Nelson, Lilian Nelson, Bariana Nicholson Perkins, Jane Olney, Rhaedyn Prew, Julia Price, Aviella Raspberry, Josephine Schliemann, Astraya Simmons, Maya Sprenger-Otto, Siobhan Sullivan, Kalahari Szarkowicz, Jillian Ulrich, Madelyn Untz, and Mijah Ylvisaker.

In the end, the Gap is based on what our goals are. Even though there is an Achievement Gap, we still choose our own path. The Achievement Gap does not stop us from achieving our goals/future. We go through tough times, but we learn from it, and, like the Achievement Gap, we can grow and learn from it.

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Plans for Closing the Gap

Getting In the Zone By Yasmin Awale, 11th Grade Roosevelt High School Shine On! Youth Editorial Board

“Class, if you have any questions don’t be afraid to ask me.”

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ow many times have you heard that line or something similar to it? Countless, right? Well, how about this: how many times do you actually ask a question after that? I don’t know about anyone else, but I usually just wait to see if anyone else has a question. Who will be willing to voice something that I might be wondering, or might not have been wondering but that might still help me to understand something? If no one has a question based on the assignment they have to do, that doesn’t mean that everyone gets it. In fact I’m willing to bet that at least a good portion of the class doesn’t get how to do it. I think that’s a problem. Students that are afraid to ask for help when they really need it could be limiting their growth in learning, which could lead to them falling behind. Alas it is just one of the many contributing factors to the ever-growing achievement gap.

I think it’s safe to blame it on the ZPD. The ZPD or ‘Zone of Proximal Development’ is something that teachers are taught in college. Right now I am learning about it in my General Psychology course. The term was invented by a Russian Psychologist named Lev Vygotsky. He believed that there is a certain order in which kids need to be taught. That order begins with the things they already know, and then the things they can learn with someone’s help, and then finally there are the things they can learn by themselves. The Zone of Proximal Development is the gray area in between what they know and

The teacher must do their best to teach you, but the learning part, that’s all on you. what they can learn with a little bit of help. When the learning you do is within the ZPD, it focuses on the things you can learn with assistance and then will be able to do by yourself. If the learning is not within your ZPD it focuses on things that you have no area of previous knowledge in, so the content doesn’t have anything to connect to in your brain, and is nearly impossible to learn fully.

How do international students experience the gap with their education & school life? Jalane Bakuto, 11th Grade Roosevelt High School Shine On! Youth Editorial Board

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nquestionably immigrant students have some struggles when they first come to the United States. When I interviewed some immigrant students, the majority of them mentioned that they had a hard time learning English. This was a problem when students were trying to participate in everyday activities such as choosing which classes to take, going to the bathroom when they needed, and making new friends. They also had problems communicating their needs to teachers. For example when they needed help on their work, it would be difficult to interact with their teacher. They also had a difficult time getting used to a new culture, a new religion, and a new life style outside of school. They had a hard time meeting new people or getting a job. Some of the people even experienced discrimination and bullying. The main reason why they experienced bullying is because they don’t always fit in with other students so they always end up in

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the center of attention. Additionally, the MCA tests are challenging because they are written in English. Most of the students don’t really get help studying for their MCA test at home because their parents don’t understand English. Because of this situation, some of the students score really low on their MCA test. However, instead of giving up, they did some things to overcome the gap. They study very hard, get involved in different kinds of school clubs that provide help on their school work. Some of the clubs that helped them were afterschool homework club, boat club, robotic club, student council and also admission possible. They also communicate with U.S. students to improve their language skills. And also students have learned to ask in order to get help from teachers. Finally, I figured out what kind of things we should improve so future new immigrants won’t have the same problems. We should communicate about the issues they have, make MCA tests easier for them, and make them feel comfortable. In final analysis, I encourage all students to step up and do what is needed to help immigrant students. l

I’ll give you an example: me and math. I’m brilliant with English and just about any other class, but math has been difficult for me. My first few weeks of 10th Grade Geometry class I fell asleep every Thursday, because the class was boring to me. I left 10th Grade feeling like I was dumb because I didn’t understand a thing about Geometry. The whole year I kept wondering if it was just me, or if anyone else was behind like I was. If there was anyone in the class like that, they sure didn’t make themselves known. Slowly letting my grades drop to the lowest I’d ever had them, even my GPA suffered and it saddened me to realize I was getting nowhere. I was not helping myself if I kept silent any longer. So what did I do? I took full advantage of the kids sitting next to me, and I finally asked them for help. I was blessed to have at least 1 or 2 classmates near me that understood—to a certain degree—what was going on, and what we were learning. Peers help you from within your ZPD because you won’t have to feel dumb or embarrassed asking them, like many students do if they have to ask a teacher for help. Looking back, it seems I have laid most of the blame on teachers, but education is a two part thing. Not learning from your ZPD isn’t just the teachers’ fault for not giving you the help you need to increase your understanding and capacity to learn, it’s also yours. Learning is something that requires 50/50 responsibility. Half of the effort comes from the teacher, and the other half comes from you, the student. The teacher must do their best to teach you, but the learning part, that’s all on you. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you are out of your ZPD and having trouble keeping up, then there are a few things you can do: 1. Ask your teacher for help before or after class. 2. Get a tutor. They aren’t scary and it’s actually their job to help out kids. 3.Try to sync your lunch with your teachers’. It’s time to have a one-on-one with your teacher, and to talk to them without having to feel embarrassed or self-conscious about what others think. Trust me, there isn’t a teacher alive that would deny a student help. Or if you’re shy like I am, at least get a minireview from your friends before seeking help from a tutor or teacher. I hope this helped to enlighten some of you to the fact that there is an achievement gap among us, and that there actually are a few ways to bridge that gap and get everyone involved and having fun while they learn. The ZPD is a crucial thing that not many realize, the sooner you can find out yours the easier it will be to seek help if you ever need it. Then when you do seek help, know that there are many ways to get it, and that as long as you have an open mind, and are willing to spend time, you can learn anything! l


Plans for Closing the Gap

Volunteering: Closing The Gap By Karis Pryor, Grade 11 Washburn High School Shine On! Youth Edtorial Board

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hen most kids hear the word volunteering, they usually turn up their nose and think about tedious, unpaid labor.  You won’t find people of my generation to be the first ones in line to volunteer.  Most students would rather be involved in sports or social activities. I am not saying this is a bad thing. Volunteering is just seldom an option that is offered to teens. I guarantee that if volunteering in the community was as advertised as the newest fashion, it would be widely praised by youth.   With volunteering on my mind, I interviewed a couple of my peers about it. I asked the simple question, “Have you ever thought about volunteering?” Many responded with a shake of the head or replied, “I did Feed My Starving Children a couple years ago.”  This is a result of the young people’s ability to contribute to the community being ignored.   Although there were some teens who responded this way, there were others out there who thrive on volunteering.  Teenagers who grew up with a background that required help have turned out to be the main ones participating in every volunteering group available.  I know of young adults in their twenties who live to help underprivileged kids and get joy out of it.  I have asked when these people what they think about volunteering and they all give me positive feedback, usually concluding their statements with, “I wish I could have gotten this kind of help as a kid.”  

Ways I Can Help

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here are two boys in my class. They can do their work but something is stopping them. I don’t know what it is, but I’m going to find out. I think to help the two boys, first I should ask them what is stopping them. The second thing I should do is find a few things that may help. I will try them and see what ones work. If one or some work I will try to help them. When I help them I will feel good and I will want to tell everyone because one day when I went to church my pastor said when something good happens to you you should tell everyone so that is what I’ll do. l

Want to Volunteer?

We are presented the broad idea of problems in the world.  For example: world hunger, poverty and homelessness.  Given the knowledge of these problems, how are we expected to respond?  A few moments of silence in the classroom and nods of the head in astonishment is often the response we, as students, have.  After we are presented with the problems, it stops there.  Rarely have I heard anybody tell a grief-filled story followed by somebody offering little ways that we could help out.  Unless it is an organization asking for donations or letters to the people struck by grief, there is nothing more asked of youth.  

Here are some volunteering organizations that have a hand in everything and offer a large array of opportunities: The Courage Center This is a great opportunity for youth volunteers to offer their services to adults and kids, just like them, who are disabled. This also includes helping them with adaptive sporting events. Second Harvest Heartland Do you feel you can contribute physically and have no problem working up a sweat to eliminate hunger? Then join this organization in helping stock shelves, sort or pack food, and pick apples during the fall at apple orchards.

How can they have the chance to be selfless when they see the problem, but are offered no road to a solution? I believe we all have it in us to give what little, or great, we can to our community.

Lyngblomsten This is a great organization that focuses on youth helping elderly people. Bridging Got some friends or a team of youth who would love to volunteer? This is an organization for everybody. Help move and sort donated furniture that was given to Bridging.

I believe we all have it in us to give what little, or great, we can to our community. Even if it is just helping out a neighbor with his/her homework, we all have the ability to give. But where are the resources? I ask this question to move us to the achievement gap. If we were presented more opportunities and encouraged more in our younger years, would we be willing to give up some of our free time to help others out? This is where the achievement gap ties in.  There are no opportunities offered for kids to help out within their communities, state, country or world that can motivate them enough. Instead, they are sheltered from the news and the adults are left to do all of the work. People may think that teenagers are caught up in their own world and are selfish when it comes to giving, but how can they give if they don’t know where to give to?  How can they have the chance to be selfless when they see the problem, but are offered no road to a solution? I believe we all have it in us to give what little, or great, we can to our community.

Neighborhood Involvement Program (NIP) This organization offers assistance to elderly people who still live at home. You can help the elderly with their chores, which may include things such as raking, trimming bushes, painting, etc. Minneapolis Parks & Recreation Want to work with kids but don’t know specifically what you want to do? Minneapolis parks are always looking for volunteers to help out with various projects, whether small or large, and offer a wide range of tasks. Arc Value Village Ever come here to shop for fun stuff or donate things? Arc Value Village can also use your help sorting and organizing clothes to sell at the store.

Please keep in mind that the bridging of the achievement gap can always start with you.You can make a great impact with anything you do for your community, neighbor or friend, whether it be academically, physically or financially.You will always have a place in this world and your contribution will be greatly appreciated. l

If you are still not finding anything that suits you, you can visit www.handsontwincities. org and find specific projects that you can get involved in.  This website is a great place to visit and find something that fits just right with what you would like to do and your schedule. Also, ask around! There is always an opportunity for you to help out.

—Gianna, Whittier School

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Plans for Closing the Gap

Left: Managing Editors Lily Thiboutot & Kelsey Schonning with Youth Editorial Board members Ben Nordquist & Annie Wood at NYLT July 2010. Center: NYLT gets you into the outdoors to learn and grow. Right: NYLT is led by enthusiastic, passionate, and educated staff like Sarah Ullmer (pictured above).

Finding Equity Through Expectations By Ben Nordquist, Grade 12 Southwest High School Shine On! Youth Editorial Board

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have been on the Youth Editorial Board of Shine On! for three years, and over this past summer I was given the chance to go to the National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) and be a representative for the paper. While at the camp, we learned a lot about the Achievement Gap and how to address it through service learning. Community service and service learning have been big parts of my life from a young age.Throughout high school I have done many mission trips, been involved with Southwest’s National Honor Society, and tutored students at an organization called Urban Ventures. This organization is making great strides in bridging the gap through their involvement with youth on many levels. The program preaches healthy lifestyles and consistently teaches the kids relevant activities that they get to choose! Their rigorous tutoring program helps kids excel with all the homework they are assigned, allowing them the ability to further their understanding of any subject. I have had the honor of volunteering with this program, and it has taught me a lot of methodologies to use in bridging the gap that I can embrace in my daily life to make a difference. It has also taught me that there are tons of different ways to get involved in order to bridge the Achievement Gap. I have learned that we need to be the change we want to see, and our pursuit for equity in an educational system has to be actively strived for. I presented myself with a challenge starting the new school term my senior year, to take service learning out of a classroom setting and work to

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bridge the gap in my everyday life.When I learned about the Achievement Gap at NYLT, one of the solutions for bridging the gap that was presented to me was maintaining high and equal expectations for everyone; this seemed like a good place to start integrating service-learning into my life. When serving I think it’s important to go into the project with an open mind, likewise, we should not define

the crowd we expect to serve. I believe that we can find a strong sense of equality through maintaining a sense of community and holding challenging expectations for one another. I have grown up in a

I have learned that we need to be the change we want to see, and our pursuit for equity in an educational system has to be actively strived for. supportive community, and have benefitted greatly from the help I have been given by my friends and family’s support. Their time in itself is a resource that not everyone has access to. It is incredibly important to remember that support is a resource that not everyone has, and supporting others with expectations challenges them and shows that you care through your involvement! Whether it is friends, peers, those you tutor, siblings, or others, I believe that we can find equity and bridge the gap by maintaining involvement, support, and expectations in our everyday life. l

Above: Idea sharing, learning, and problem solving are essential parts of NYLT. Right: The whole group of participants from the July 2010 NYLT.


Plans for Closing the Gap

National Youth Leadership Training NYLT & Service-Learning By Esther Lee, Grade 11 Chaska High School

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his past summer I had the privilege of attending the National Youth Leadership Training camp in Mound, Minnesota. During the week, I made many friends and was given an eyeopening education about the achievement gap and service-learning. Before the training, I thought that service-learning was an extracurricular, and that the achievement gap was simply a concern of academics. During the camp, I came to understand that these two were correlated and that successful service-learning programs can lead to reducing the achievement gap. As we were learning about the achievement gap, I came to realize that there are no “dumb” kids. When someone says that they haven’t finished high school, or they are failing certain classes, or they are in the alternative school, subconsciously we as a society and as students judge that these students have failed or are “dumb.” Instead, throughout the week I came to realize that every student has a different learning style and that that style may not be able to express itself or have its needs met in the conventional school environment. Through service-learning programs, however, students are able to work and learn in a hands-on and engaging way, and have an opportunity to serve their community and be involved in solving local issues. This approach enables students to find their potential and confidence in learning. Once the students find confidence and potential in themselves, they will tend to be more positive and curious, and take more responsibility for their own work at school and in their community. In this way, service-learning can be a good start to help close the achievement gap. Hearing about youth making a difference in their community by supporting servicelearning helped me realize that it is time we take action and raise our voices to help close the achievement gap! l

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his past July, over fifty students from around the country gathered at the National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT). Participants took part in countless interactive activities relating to service-learning and the Achievement Gap. At the end of the training, participants put together Service-Learning Action Plans to help close the Achievement Gap in their home communities. These are some of the projects students across the nation are taking part in now to mobilize youth around the issue of the Achievement Gap, inspired by NYLT.

“We are creating an initiative in our school to open students’ eyes to the achievement gap. To do this we hope to plan and carry out an experiential learning seminar meant to simulate the achievement gap with the freshman class of 2014 in April of 2011.” —Vic Griffin & Michelle Gavel Lincoln Charter School, Denver, NC

“We’re planning an immersion style lockin for 7th-10th graders to open student’s minds to the achievement gap, what it looks and feels like.”

“Our project is to create a group called Kelvyn Park Youth Committee. We made two committees called peer to peer committee and peer to staff committee. We work on separate projects but we come back as a group and reflect and help each other with our projects to close the gap.”

—Justice Walker, Trevor Hammond, & Kenithia Nicky Addison, Campfire USA (Community Based Organization), Washington, DC

— Jorge Zamora & Leo Cedasero Kelvyn Park High School, Chicago, IL

“We’re designing a curriculum for a class in the spring to raise awareness in our affluent, homogenous school about what a ‘good education’ is and why certain students are not receiving it. Students will conduct research projects on various causes/effects of the achievement gap. Also, we will establish a connection with Markham Elementary School (where over 65% of students qualify for free/reduced lunch) through servicelearning to further strengthen community ties.”

“We’re promoting narrowing the achievement gap by holding a summer camp program for elementary school kids, and we’re going to incorporate a healthy/awesome learning experience.We’ll focus on reading and math and do some exercise to whip that brain and body into shape!” — Molly Messner, James Fletcher, Laura Salvidar, Peter Barnas, Savannah Mayer, Rhiann Owen, Kelsi Breazeale, & Rachel Zahaur; Algonquin, IL Harry D. Jacobs; Dundee, Hampshire,

—Kelsey West, Ellie Bartlett, & Nate Higby Riverdale High School, Portland, Oregon

“We are going to host workshops to remove or decrease the external emotional and behavioral concerns of students at Hyde.”

Tired of hearing about

the achievement gap?

—Shacoya Freeman, Christian Hill, & Julian Busby Hyde Leadership Public Charter School, Washington D.C.

Become a part of the solution

“We are talking to our legislators about rules and certain issues that play into the achievement gap in our school.We are also making sure everyone has the basic tools for school!”

through service-learning. Check out youth leadership trainings at nylc.org/nylt.

—Kayla Phillips, John Sedgwick Jr. High Port Orchard/Bremerton

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What the Gap Looks Like

Doesn’t Scare Me Anymore On the first day of school I didn’t know what to expect Crowded halls New faces But it doesn’t scare me anymore Harder classes Same long day Tell me will I want to stay? But it doesn’t scare me anymore Are the older kids mean? What if I just want to leave? But it doesn’t scare me anymore I walked into school Saw people that I knew When the day ended I could say I wasn’t frightened It doesn’t scare me anymore. —Ella Laurent, Grade 6 Field Community School Teacher: Sandy Berry

If our education system continues to fail some kids, we are going to fall apart globally… this is a global issue! —Pahwahnna Khem, Grade 7, Marcy Open

Success Struggles Because of who I am, and what I see, there are plenty of reasons why I cannot succeed. Whether it’s the money problems, the drinking problems, or drugs, It keeps me from success. How are you supposed to do your best when you have nobody to run to? Because the only thing you know is what people show you and just because they showed you doesn’t mean it’s good. Cause anybody would show you anything if it’s good for ‘their ’hood’. People have struggles, people have battles, if people would take time to figure them out, Maybe one day the failing students’ math tests would count! —Shavala Parker AVID Edison High School

“I think the school should put less kids in each class so kids can get more one-on-one time the teacher to reach each of their individual needs.”

“I can help my peers if they are struggling. I could get together with my friends that are struggling with work and we could study together.” —Paige T.,Whittier International Elementary

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The Achievement Gap