Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Closing the Achievement Gap series (April 2008).


Copyright 2008, California Department of Education. Used by permission.

This is one in a series of ten papers and policy briefs prepared through a collaboration between the California Department of Education and the University of California organized by the UC Davis School of Education Center for Applied Policy in Education. April, 2008.


Superintendent O'Connell's 2007 call for greater public attention to the racial achievement gap in education provides the backdrop for our report. This report is intended to provide research-grounded policy recommendations related to assuring all students access to high quality instruction. This includes describing what California teachers should be helped to do in California classrooms if these classrooms are to be rich and successful learning environments where students from the many backgrounds represented in the nation's largest system of schools are all to fare well academically.

Superintendent O'Connell has expressed particular concern with inequities in current practice and current outcomes, so a starting point for this review is the research on practices that seem to be particularly successful with ELs, Latino children, African American children, low-income children, and other categories of students who, as a group, are not being as successfully supported by current California schooling as are students of white, Asian, and more affluent backgrounds. Comparing the academic performance index (API) in 2006 of various populations of all grades of California students, white (non-Hispanic), Filipino, and Asian students were +80, +87, and + 126 points ahead of the overall API average of 721, and all three groups exceeded California's target for schools of 800 (Whites by + 1, Filipinos by +8, and Asians by +47), although White and Filipino 9th -11 th graders fell below the 800 threshold. In contrast, African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian/Alaskan Native, and Pacific Islander were each groups whose average score was below the overall average API and well below the target threshold of 800. This was true at all grade levels. The API for African Americans was 635 (-86 in relation to the overall average and -165 in comparison to the target threshold of 800). Hispanics/Latinos' average API was 656 (- 65 below the overall API and -144 in relation to the target threshold). The same analysis also shows socioeconomically disadvantaged students, ELs, and students with disabilities to have average scores well below the overall API average and well short of the target threshold.