Deval Patrick unveils second wave of programs to close ‘achievement gap’

Governor Deval Patrick today announced his latest plans for helping the state’s most challenged students catch up with their peers.

During an education summit at UMass Boston, the governor said his new ideas for closing the so-called achievement gap include:

*Testing a kindergarten literacy program to ensure all students read by the third grade.

*Creating student support councils so that children are in a positive learning environment both in school and at home.

*Launching a summer English learning program so students for whom English is a second language have a chance to catch their peers.

“The Commonwealth’s record of student achievement is second to none and a model for the nation,’’ Patrick said in a statement. “I am proud of the progress we have made, but we won’t be satisfied until we have a system that prepares all of our students for success.’’


The Achievement Gap Act, signed by Patrick in 2010, provided new focus, rules, tools, and support.

Two-thirds of the state’s chronically underperforming schools have already shown significant improvements on the latest MCAS exams, and last year a record number of charter schools opened new schools in districts with the greatest need, according to the statement.

Patrick repeated the word ‘opportunity’ at least a dozen times during his 30 minute speech, saying this country was founded in part on the belief of opportunity for all. The governor also repeated the word ‘poverty’ several times.

“There is an inescapable association between socioeconomic status and future achievement,’’ he said to a crowd of about 500 people assembled this morning inside the University of Massachusetts-Boston third-floor ballroom, for the one day ‘Education Summit 2011: Closing the Achievement Gap.’’

“The current system is still not strong enough or broad enough to close the achievement gap…we must have a sense of urgency about it,’’ Patrick said.

He proposed four initiatives aimed at making children better readers by the third grade, assisting in student needs, such as nutrition, outside of school, creating summer English language camps, and creating pilot career academies to help graduates who may not be heading to college develop careers.


Patrick said he will ask the State Legislature in January to fund those programs and he also announced that he and his staff will work to help set up an “Innovation Fund’’ that would seek contributions from the public and private sector. He said after his speech that his staff is working to determine the total cost of his proposals.

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