U establishes region’s first dedicated research hub and portal on achievement gaps

The University of Minnesota is establishing the region’s first dedicated research hub and portal for information about achievement gaps, President Eric Kaler announced April 2 in his State of the University address.

The Educational Equity Resource Center will serve as a bridge between University researchers and resources and the educators who work with Minnesota’s children and youth every day.

“We must be engaged community members in this work to close educational disparities,” said Kaler. “It’s at the core of our land-grant mission and at the heart and soul of our strategic plan.”

Addressing the achievement gap has been a centerpiece of Kaler’s personal engagement with business, community and education leaders. The University has identified about 140 faculty and researchers across the institution working on closing the achievement and opportunity gaps in Minnesota.

“More and more schools and districts are coming to us to learn what we know, and we want to build on that to be an even stronger partner in closing the achievement gap,” said Kaler, co-chair of Generation Next, a broad partnership of organizations and leaders from across the Twin Cities working to close the achievement gap.

The leader of the U’s coordinated educational equity effort is professor and Campbell Leadership Chair Michael Rodriguez in the College of Education and Human Development. Rodriguez is meeting with hundreds of school leaders around the Twin Cities, and across the state, to talk about scaling up promising practices and supporting local efforts to analyze progress. Rodriguez will co-direct the new center along with Julie Sweitzer, director of the U’s College Readiness Consortium. An advisory group of preK and K-12 educators will be formed.

“We are beginning to move beyond ‘What works?’ to ‘What works for whom, and under what conditions and in what contexts?’” said Rodriguez. “We are more successfully translating research to practice by tailoring our work to meet the needs and preferences of changing communities.”

A new website will provide easy access to a growing body of research, professional development opportunities, curriculum and classroom resources, especially those focused on improving equity in educational outcomes. The site, which continues to add information, is: www.gap.umn.edu.

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