Achievement Gap Summit 2008

Program of the Day's Events

The Race and Pedagogy Initiative and its Community Partners Forum at University of Puget Sound, in collaboration with the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), the Washington Alliance of Black School Educators (WABSE), the Black Education Strategy Roundtable, and other community partners, are presenting a one-day summit to focus on the sources of the achievement gap. Together we will excavate this thorny issue as we bring to the fore the key historical, systemic, and structural features that undergird this central problem of public education. This is a critical first step in our efforts to comprehend this problem and to explore productive and collaborative approaches to addressing it.

The Summit scheduled for October 18, 2008 on the campus of the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma Washington, is a follow-up to the Achievement Gap Summit of April 29, 2006, which sought to draw attention to the state of local and national emergency represented by this Gap and the ranging research and community conversations about it. One of the outcomes of this 2006 Summit was the need for far more in-depth understanding and confrontation of the historical and contemporary sources this achievement gap, variously named in scholarship, public policy and teacher education as a preparation gap and educational debt.

Programmatically, this Summit is a significant part of the Community Partners dimension of the university’s Race and Pedagogy Initiative which is scheduled to host its second National Conference on Race and Pedagogy on its campus October 14-16, 2010. For full details of the 2006 Conference see the conference website. Conceptually, this Summit exemplifies an important facet of the emerging model of how the Race and Pedagogy Initiative will carry out its work of grounded scholarship, pedagogy, and reciprocal civic engagement. In this model, the Summit will provide a local and regional platform for collaborative flashpoint attention to specific issues of moment in K-12 education, while the National Conference will draw attention to broader issues on the national stage. In between these two projects of the Summit and the National Conference, the Race and Pedagogy Institute will broaden and intensify local, regional and national conversation and consultation on the critical issues raised by the Summit and the Conference through school and community based workshops, university internships, and exchanges, and assiduous documentation, housing and circulation of research to date. A Parents Conference scheduled for spring 2009 is one such focused conversation.

This 2008 Summit will bring together five hundred educators parents and caregivers, students, as well as business and political leaders to share research, pedagogic practices and family and community knowledge and experience in an effort to deepen our understanding of this local and national crisis in education.

The long-term goal of this effort is to move towards a system of education for all students where the playing field is level regardless of their ethnic background or socio-economic status. Our immediate focus will be on K-12 schools and students in our geographic region; but we aspire to pattern remedies to the achievement gap that may be extrapolated to schools throughout the country. Our experience with the Race and Pedagogy Conference and subsequent discussions about the achievement gap has revealed the complexity of the problem. We now seek to begin a new initiative focused on identifying and promoting solutions to that problem. Targeted outcomes of our efforts are as follows:

  • Systematic identification of the historical, contemporary social, cultural, economic, and political causes of the achievement gap.
  • Increased community awareness of the prevalence and multi-dimensional impact of the achievement gap on the following important areas:
    • The intellectual and emotional well-being of students and families served by under-resourced schools, especially low-income students who are often students of color.
    • Shaping the perceptions of education, performance and intellectual abilities of minority learners in particular (and to some degree majority learners as well) due to stereotype threat.
    • Structuring the racial, ethnic, social class and gendered composition of the regional and national work-force.
  • Development of strategies for effective partnerships between schools and families.
  • Promotion of the capacities of low-income parents of color as valuable first teachers of their children with intellectual and social knowledge to offer schools about the education of their children.
  • Enhancement of a sustained dialogue between parents, guardians, educators, and role models who directly shepherd students potentially falling into the achievement gap; and those researchers, representatives of the political and legal establishment, and community activities who frame the academic or policy tools to begin closing that gap.
  • Creation of an enduring network of stakeholders to continue addressing achievement gap issues, particularly in the south Puget Sound.
  • Creation of a plan of action outlining a progression of subsequent program initiatives systematically to address various contributing factors and potentially ameliorating interventions regarding the achievement gap.
  • Identification of south Puget Sound stakeholders and the regional and national academic community of the university’s Race and Pedagogy Initiative as a growing center of achievement gap dialogue and problem-solving.

Some of the results of our work will be immediate with tangible evidence; others will be more long-term and intangible. We will administer a post-Summit evaluation to attendees to assess their engagement with the topics presented as well as the extent to which the events address the issues and move the conversation and solutions forward. The coalition of Summit planners will engage in a full assessment of the effectiveness of the Summit and Forum using the same techniques employed to evaluate the effectiveness and results of the Race and Pedagogy Conference.


The following organizations have made Achievement Gap Summit II possible:

Summit Sponsor

Presenting Sponsor

Regional Sponsors


Knowledge Sponsor
Federal Way Public Schools

Awareness Sponsors
Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction
The Evergreen State College - Tacoma Campus
Weyerhaeuser Company Diversity Office

Education Sponsor
Tacoma Housing Authority

Thank you to the following supporter:

Pierce County Department of Community Services