Closing the Achievement Gap
“Are High-Quality Schools Enough to Close the Achievement Gap? Evidence From a Social Experiment in Harlem” by Will Dobbie and Roland G. Fryer Jr., in The NBER Digest, March 2010.
The average African-American 17-year-old today reads at the level of the typical white 13-year-old. That is only one manifestation of the racial achievement gap, one of the deepest and most intractable American social problems. Unveiling the results of the first empirical test of school performance in the highly publicized Harlem Children’s Zone, Harvard economist Roland G. Fryer Jr. and doctoral candidate Will Dobbie say that a successful strategy for closing the gap may be at hand.
The Harlem Children’s Zone is a 97-block area in Manhattan boasting a supercharged web of city- and foundation-backed community services “designed to ensure the social environment outside of school is positive and supportive for children from birth to college graduation.” Established in 1997, it offers upwards of 20 programs serving more than 8,000 youths and 5,000 adults, including Promise Academy, a group of public charter schools with approximately 1,300 students.
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