From the Editor: Redefining the Achievement Gap

Painting the achievement gap in broad strokes of race/ethnicity and poverty does not show the complete picture of who is most affected by it. While the impact of poverty on student achievement is well documented, the “opportunity gap” between rich and middle class students—which is escalating—is far less emphasized. According to Sean F. Reardon, professor of education and sociology at Stanford University, the disparity between the rich and the middle class has increased dramatically over the past 30 years, so that “the rich now outperform the middle class by as much as the middle class outperform the poor.” Reardon argues in an Op-ed published in The New York Times that “the academic gap is widening because rich students are increasingly entering kindergarten much better prepared to succeed in school than middle-class students.” (Principal will explore the “school readiness” gap in the Sept/Oct 2013 issue.)

This issue of Principal investigates the school’s role in leveling the playing field. We start with Christopher Wooleyhand’s six-step framework for what principals can do to close the gap, including instilling a schoolwide culture of efficacy. Our Q&A with University of Maryland, Baltimore County President Freeman Hrabowski provides a 30,000 foot view discussion of strategies to bridge the achievement gap.

In addition, this issue features the last article in the five-part series for early career principals, Charting Your Path. In this issue, Dwayne A. Young, a principal and nationally certified mentor in the NAESP National Mentor Program, provides insight on how early career principals can take advantage of their recent teaching past.

Principal will continue to develop content that speaks to the unique needs of early career principals and will archive all the articles at NAESP’s Center for New Principals ( Also in development are issues on the themes listed below. We’re always looking for principal voices, so consider scheduling time to write and submit an article to be considered for publication.

Last, I want to point you toward the special section on NAESP’s annual conference, which can be found between pages 24 and 25. Review the speaker lineup— our best ever—and descriptions of pre-conference workshops and special events. Hope to see you in Baltimore!

Your comments are always welcome, so send me an email at to let me know what you think about the issue.

—Kaylen Tucker

Copyright © National Association of Elementary School Principals. No part of the articles in NAESP magazines, newsletters, or website may be reproduced in any medium without the permission of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. For more information, view NAESP’s reprint policy.

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