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About the Initiative

In February 2007, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell announced his intent to lead an effort to identify ways the state can better assist counties, districts, and schools in their efforts to close California’s achievement gap.

As public schools in California and across the nation become increasingly diverse, the most pernicious and challenging education issue of our time is the academic achievement gap. The racial and economic achievement gaps are a fact that California simply cannot afford to accept—morally, economically or socially. We know that all children can learn to the same high levels, so we must confront and change those things that are holding groups of students back.

"Sadly, too many people view (California's) diversity as a big problem. I don't. Instead, I say: Imagine! Imagine the potential of that diversity in today's–and tomorrow's—global economy. If we educate these students well, our state would not only be able to compete more effectively, but it would be able to lead our nation and the world economically."

—State Superintendent Jack O'Connell

The Superintendent's approach to developing and implementing a plan for closing the achievement gap includes charging his California P-16 Council (Council) to provide recommendations on what the State can do differently to assist local education agencies in closing the achievement gap. In addition, he established a P-16 Unit within the California Department of Education to assist the Council in their work.

The P-16 Unit will conduct extensive information gathering via examining existing research; surveying educators, students, families, and other stakeholders; identifying current exemplary successful practices in California; conducting town hall meetings, community forums, and through a statewide Achievement Gap Summit in Sacramento in November 2007.

The P-16 Unit will be visiting schools, county offices of education, and school districts to gather vital information and input. Based on the information gathered, the Superintendent will outline his initial recommendations in his State of Education Address in early 2008.

Defining the Achievement Gap

The U.S. Department of Education describes the achievement gap as the difference in academic performance between different ethnic groups. In California, the gap is defined as the disparity between white students and other ethnic groups and between English learners and native English speakers, socioeconomically disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged, and students with disabilities as compared to students without disabilities.


Learn more about the achievement gap in California

P-16 Council

A statewide assembly of education, business, and community leaders charged with developing strategies to better coordinate, integrate, and improve education for preschool through college students.

Our Partners

Find out about the partners working on the initiative.

Browse Publications

Browse our recent publications and findings about the initiative.