“Achievement gap” has rapidly become a jargon-y phrase that means at once a lot and very little.

We talk about the educational disparities between students who thrive in school, and those who don’t. But there are several factors beneath that umbrella term.

Voice of San Diego reporter Mario Koran parsed out what exactly those factors are, specific to San Diego’s circumstances. San Diego Unified School District is in a transitional period, as new Superintendent Cindy Marten settles into her new role. So far we’ve heard a lot of lofty rhetoric on what she plans to do, with few defined steps or goals.

We’re planning to explore the roots of the problem over the coming weeks, but a lot of readers are already diving in. Check out some comments that offered potential causes, and some possible solutions.

“Since the super majority of kids will never graduate from a four-year college, programs like career academies make the most sense.” – James Wilson

“Kids aren’t born with an achievement gap. That gap manifests itself at the earliest stages of the educational system. Target and monitor the gap at the earliest stages and we save ourselves a lot of money and effort when they hit high school.” – Oscar Ramos (an occasional VOSD contributor)

“Head Start’s own data shows achievement is the same by third grade. Many of the studies cited to push public pre-school are limited to high-risk kids from extreme situations like having addict/criminal parents, and others have limited, real academic, scientific value.” – Leah Placido Dutra

“Teachers within a particular school, that are teaching the same students can be measured against one another. You don’t measure performance by comparing teachers in La Jolla vs. teachers in a struggling school. You compare the results of teachers who are all working with kids from the same community.” – Shawn Fox

“In SDUSD in particular, we need to end a system that encourages teachers to receive their on-the-job training at schools most in need of experienced and high-quality instructors.” – Erik Bruvold

“More pressing is actual accountability for teachers on an individual basis. Every teacher should have a publicly accessible record of the student test scores entering and leaving their classes. You can’t hold parents responsible when they have no idea if the teacher their kid has is up to the job or not. It only takes one bad teacher and one social promotion following the bad teacher to snowball into a kid who fails, even if they graduate.” – Jim Jones

Comments have been lightly edited for style and clarity.

Catherine Green was formerly the deputy editor at Voice of San Diego. She handled daily operations while helping to plan new long-term projects.

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