Local leaders line up behind gap-closing plan

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August 18, 2014
By: Dylan Thomas
Dylan Thomas
Generation Next outlined steps to close the achievement gap in Minneapolis and St. Paul schools Monday

Generation Next Executive Director R.T. Rybak outlined three steps the coalition aims to take to close the achievement gap in Minneapolis and St. Paul schools Monday in a presentation at the University of Minnesota.

Those include comprehensive health and developmental screenings for every 3 year old, tutoring to get all children reading by the third grade and help for students to plan for college and careers after high school from trained adults. During the event, Target and United Way also announced a $1.1-million donation to identify “bright spots” in the local education landscape and reward high-performing public and charter schools.

Rybak was joined on the stage of the Cowles Auditorium inside the university’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs by an array of local leaders in education, business and government. The former Minneapolis mayor called the gaps in school achievement and outcomes that persistently separate children of color from their peers “the shame of this community.”

Generation Next had previously outlined five goals for Minneapolis and St. Paul: preparing every child for kindergarten; ensuring students reach reading benchmarks by third grade; ensuring students reach math benchmarks by 8th grade; graduating every high school student in four years; and preparing every graduate to earn a post-secondary degree or certification within six years.

Rybak said the Twin Cities community does not lack compassion, but it does lack “alignment” around how to close the achievement gap. The specific steps outlined Monday will advance work on three of Generation Next’s five goals.

More detailed plans on boosting student math skills and the graduation rate are expected from Generation Next this fall.