David Snyder

New study shows Harlem Children's Zone closing achievement gaps

Education Week reports on a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, which looked at student achievement results from the Harlem Children's Zone charter schools over three years. Remarkably, student results show that the New York City black-white achievement gap was eliminated in elementary math and language arts and middle school math, and halved in middle school language arts.

The study's authors emphasize that they were unable to conclude if the schools themselves, or the combination of the schools and community wraparound programs, such as parenting and anti-obesity programs, were responsible for the gains.

Although it will be interesting to see if research can prove the efficacy of such larger community programs, it's clear that the success of the HCZ charters isn't simply a matter of academics. According to Ed Week, Richard Rothstein notes "the report seems to underemphasize that the Harlem Children's Zone schools themselves offer some non-academic supports that may help explain their success...such as regular medical, dental, and mental-health services for students, as well as substantial funds for after-school programs."

In other words, focusing on the whole child has clearly had an effect here—regardless of whether it's the schools themselves or schools in combination with larger community initiatives that is driving such dramatic results.

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