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MCPS Achievement Gap Shrink Noted at National Conference

A University of Chicago professor said a change in culture, not curriculum, was key.

Montgomery County Public Schools were singled out at a recent national conference on high school reform for taking steps to close the achievement gap between races, according to US News and World Report. A professor at the University of Chicago noted the system had succeeded in lifting up scores for black and Hispanic students. 

Charles Payne, professor and affiliate of the university's Urban Education Institute, said MCPS narrowed the achievement gap—lower test scores among black and Latino students when compared to white and Asian students—at all grade levels by moving the best teachers to underserved schools. 

"There are some groups of African-American and Hispanic students who, when they get a different caliber of teachers, can turn on a dime," he said. "Montgomery County cannot be the only place where those students exist."

A spokesperson for MCPS told the Gazette that leveling achievement has been a goal "for decades" and that it is still part of the strategic plan. 

Superintendent Joshua Starr said recently that the school system will have "an unrelenting commitment to equity" as a top priority. (Watch Starr talk about Montgomery County's achievement gap with Patch.) 

Baltimore City public schools also were cited by Payne as an example of an increase in graduation rates. 

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