Education Achievement Gaps: The Equivalent of a Permanent National Recession
Just how valuable is rising student achievement in Stark County? How valuable can it be to the state and nation?
A major national report offered a hint last week as McKinsey & Company, the global management consulting firm, published The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America's Schools.* McKinsey found that existing gaps at all levels of the system impose the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession-one substantially larger than the deep recession the country is currently experiencing.
For individuals, the report notes, avoidable shortfalls in academic achievement impose heavy and often tragic consequences via lower earnings, poor health, and higher rates of incarceration. This is particularly true for low income students.
McKinsey found that if the gap between low-income students and the rest had been similarly narrowed, GDP in 2008 would have been $400 billion to $670 billion higher, or 3 to 5 percent of GDP.**
While economic and life issues can certainly impact students, the report noted a cause for hope.
Our reading of the evidence suggests that while factors outside of school are certainly very important sources of unequal outcomes, superior educational policies and practices at every level-federal, state, district, school, and classroom-matter profoundly for student achievement, and thus for students' economic prospects and life chances.***
Such policies and practices are apparent in Stark County where the high school graduation rate in the Canton City Schools has increased from 54.1% in 2003-04 to 72.9% in 2007-08 and where twelve school districts have now surpassed a 95% graduation rate.
* The report and supporting materials may be downloaded at: http://www.mckinsey.com/clientservice/socialsector/achievementgap.asp
*** p. 21.