Closing Equity Gaps Through Research-Based Interventions

Closing educational gaps between underserved students and their peers is paramount to our nation’s social and economic viability. In this regard, accelerating the college and career readiness of underserved students is certainly one of the most profound challenges we face in order to improve the chances that all students have the ability to take advantage of the economic and cultural impact opportunities available to them in the 21st century.

However, the educational landscape for the majority of students—including low-income, first-generation, or students of color—is all too familiar and daunting. Nearly all students have post-secondary aspirations, some are quite successful, but many face very long odds at being fully equipped to succeed in competitive job markets requiring increasingly more technical skills.

Moreover many schools in which they live and learn face broad and seemingly intractable challenges at closing opportunity and attainment gaps and supporting all students’ in achieving their educational goals. Clearly we need more, not less educational planning, support, monitoring, and interventions across the K-12 to post-secondary continuum to make a substantial positive difference for students who face barriers and challenges on their way to post-secondary success.

It’s equally clear that effective solutions—especially sustainable or scalable solutions—for overcoming the challenges faced by schools can’t be addressed by schools alone. Instead, schools can better overcome these challenges and leverage successful solutions from other communities when they are bolstered and supported by the ingenuity, resources, and shared commitment of the many willing potential partners within the larger education support ecosystem. After all, ultimately, we all depend on the success of our schools and benefit from the success of our students.

Along these lines, we have developed, engaged in, and continue to advance research-based partnerships between willing secondary, post-secondary, community, foundation, and research institutions.  The joint commitment to students, communities, and our shared future drives the Center to seek out effective partnerships with organizations like NCCEP, the Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund, the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, the Council for Opportunity in Education, Excelencia in Education, the Native Indian Education Association, UCLA’s Institute for Immigration, Globalization, and Education, and UNCF.

Such partnerships can be a powerful vehicle to deliver key research-based interventions in a scalable and sustainable way to better support students and families, and the schools and colleges that support and educate them. While ACT has partnered together with organizations on many projects over more than a decade, all of our combined efforts have taken a research and evidentiary-based approach to examining the effectiveness of interventions in attaining important outcomes from the middle grades through post-secondary completion.

And the critical part of this work is that we do so through a lens of intervention scalability, sustainability, and impact. Knowing that an educational intervention or solution works is important, but having that evidence alone is insufficient to actually improving the lives of students and families and the schools that earnestly seek to serve them well.  The promise of evidenced-backed solutions is best realized when they are scaled widely; sustained by local, regional, and national partnerships; and advanced to inform educational practice and policy for years to come.

It is self-evident that the educational challenges facing the United States now and into the near future are too large and too complex to be addressed adequately by one idea, one organization, or one partnership. That is why we work in partnership with other organizations that share our commitment to helping all people succeed in education and the workplace.

Our commitment to students and families, especially those without adequate access to information, resources and supports, extends beyond a professional interest; it’s also a personal and deep and moral commitment. It’s this way for the organizations that the Center partners with, too.  This commitment is reflected in our organizations’ missions and, more importantly, in our actions.  We invite you to join us in mobilizing around this critical challenge.