November 18, 2008 13:09 ET

Finding and Funding Programs That Close the Achievement Gap an Increased Priority in Times of Shrinking Budgets

PRINCETON, NJ--(Marketwire - November 18, 2008) - In education reform, money matters, but so does wise spending. This is especially important in the current economic slowdown when most states are keeping education spending flat and some are actually making cuts. Solutions to closing the achievement gap will require information on what programs work in light of the costs and benefits of those programs.

The fall issue of ETS Policy Notes, a publication of Educational Testing Service's Policy Information Center, presents highlights from the May 2008 symposium, "School Finance and the Achievement Gap: Funding Programs that Work."

This edition of ETS Policy Notes offers both sobering statistics and encouraging news. ETS Senior Vice President Michael Nettles notes that achievement gaps form early and compound over the course of a child's academic career. However, he adds, some urban school districts have succeeded in narrowing such gaps, citing Austin and Atlanta as examples of school districts that have had some success in closing achievement gaps.

ETS President and CEO Kurt Landgraf says, "Reforming how education dollars are spent is necessary but difficult, especially in today's economy. In order for us to continue to make strides in closing the achievement gap, we must choose cost-efficient programs already proven to work over time."

Co-sponsored by the Education Law Center and the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) at the University of Pennsylvania, ETS's 10th Achievement Gap Symposium provided a forum for discussion among political, academic and legal experts from across the country to advance their efforts to ensure that education resources are used effectively and efficiently. Participants explored the relationship between school finance and academic achievement, examined issues in resource allocation and accountability, highlighted programs that successfully close gaps, and examined the costs and benefits of those programs.

Symposium sessions looked at school finance issues from the state, local, legislative and policy perspectives. Margaret Goertz, co-director of CPRE, traced the role of public funding as it relates to an adequate education. Jacob Adams Jr., education professor, Claremont Graduate University, followed Goertz's presentation with some creative solutions to the funding dilemma.

Professor Arthur Reynolds, director of the long-term study of the Chicago Child-Parent Center's early education program outlined "What We Know" about effective Pre-K and elementary-school programs, and Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC) researcher Janet Quint did the same for effective secondary school programs. The final session, "Reflections on Where We Are and Where We Want to Go," moderated by Angelo Falcón, President of the National Institute for Latino Policy, provided a look at the challenges and possibilities that lie ahead.

Other symposium participants included:

--  Paul Reville, Massachusetts Secretary of Education
--  Molly Hunter, head of Education Justice, a national initiative
    of the Education Law Center, Newark, N.J.
--  Frieda Lacey, Deputy Superintendent of the Montgomery County
    School District, Maryland
--  Henry Levin of Teachers College, Columbia University
--  Clive Belfield of Queens College, City University of New York
--  Michael Griffith, a school finance analyst at the Education
    Commission of the States
--  Ronald Cowell of the nonprofit Education Policy and Leadership

Download the complete fall issue of ETS Policy Notes, supporting materials and symposium presentations for free at Free print copies, while supplies last, are available from the Policy Information Center, ETS, MS 19-R, Rosedale Road, Princeton, N.J. 08541-0001; by calling (609) 734-5949; or by sending an e-mail to

About ETS

ETS is a nonprofit institution with the mission to advance quality and equity in education by providing fair and valid assessments, research, and related services for all people worldwide. In serving individuals, educational institutions and government agencies around the world, ETS customizes solutions to meet the need for teacher professional development products and services, classroom and end-of-course assessments, and research-based teaching and learning tools. Founded in 1947, ETS today develops, administers, and scores more than 50 million tests annually, in more than 180 countries, at over 9,000 locations worldwide. Additional information is available at