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Campaign for High School Equity Outlines Steps for Closing the Achievement Gap at Congressional Hearing on High School Reform

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                 CONTACT:

May 12, 2009                                                                            Jorge Sanz, (202) 331-4323
Campaign for High School Equity Outlines Steps for Closing the Achievement Gap at Congressional Hearing on High School Reform
WASHINGTONIn a U.S. House of Representatives’ Education and Labor Committee hearing today, “America’s Competitiveness through High School Reform,” the Campaign for High School Equity (CHSE), a coalition of leading civil rights organizations focused on high school reform, pointed to specific actions Congress must take to close the achievement gap in high schools nationwide.
In his testimony, Michael Wotorson, executive director of CHSE, illustrated the realities of the education crisis as it affects students of color and low-income students in particular. Research shows that of incoming 9th graders in the U.S., one-third will drop out of school, and another third will graduate lacking college- and work-readiness skills — the majority of which are students of color. While the average graduation rate is higher than 70 percent nationally, only six out of every 10 African-American, Latino or Native American students graduate from high school with a regular diploma each year, and inconsistent data reporting makes graduation rates for Asian American students unclear.
“Students of color and English Language Learner (ELL) students represent the fastest growing population of young people in our schools, yet they are so underserved in our high schools that the challenges they face often far outweigh the opportunities,” said Wotorson. “We currently have two different school systems in this country — one that emphasizes high academic quality and serves the nation’s privileged students, and one that emphasizes academic mediocrity and largely serves low-income students and students of color. It’s up to Congress to shift this paradigm and create a system that meets the needs of every student.”
Wotorson outlined specific priorities at the hearing to improve student outcomes and graduate every student prepared for college and the modern workforce, including:
·         holding high schools accountable for student success through stronger graduation rate regulations and improved longitudinal, disaggregated data systems;
·         redesigning the American high school by integrating student supports and engaging the community in education, incorporating culturally competent teaching practices and identifying consistent standards and practices to facilitate the integration of ELL students;
·         providing students with the excellent leaders and teachers they need to succeed;
·         investing communities in student success; and
·         providing equitable learning conditions for all students.
“The House Education and Labor Committee’s focus on student achievement at the high school level marks a promising shift in the federal approach to education reform,” said Wotorson. “The pending reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is a critical opportunity to institutionalize the reforms that are necessary for student success, but it must be improved to strengthen accountability and include support for high schools.”
To read CHSE’s written testimony and to learn more about its policy priorities, visit
# # #
CHSE is a coalition of leading civil rights organizations representing communities of color that is focused on high school education reform. Members include the National Urban League, National Council of La Raza, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, League of United Latin American Citizens, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, Alliance for Excellent Education, National Indian Education Association and Southeast Asia Resource Action Center.
CHSE is a special project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

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