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Closing the Achievement Gap: Strategies for Excellence with Equity

6/27/16 to 7/1/16


Tuition: $2,575 per person

Senior Lecturer Ronald Ferguson, faculty director of the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard University, is faculty chair of Closing the Achievement Gap. In this edition of the EdCast, he describes the institute and explains what participants can expect when they attend. Listen now to learn more about this upcoming institute.

What You Will Learn

Learn how to raise achievement levels for all students—while narrowing the gaps between groups—by increasing teacher, student and family engagement. Return to your school or district with a concrete strategy to engage key stakeholders in striving for excellence with equity.

Program Overview

Closing the Achievement Gap focuses on contemporary frameworks used to understand instructional quality, student engagement, youth development, parenting and leadership in racially diverse communities. Challenges of responding effectively to racial, ethnic and socio-economic differences within school communities will receive special attention. Using a socio-ecological approach, you will consider the interdependence of each stakeholder’s role in raising student achievement and closing gaps. You will gain a firm understanding of how your school community can strategically and effectively work together with shared goals for improved student outcomes.

The program features research findings from the Tripod Project for school improvement, which surveys students and teachers around the nation in an effort to understand how they experience teaching and learning. Findings are often surprising and have important implications for our schools. For example, many students pretend they are not trying and do not care, when neither is actually the case. Findings such as these are featured in the program and have important implications for leadership in diverse schools and classrooms.

Prior to the program, you will have access to a Harvard-designed online research tool you can use to collect perspectives from local stakeholders on key issues in your school or district. Using ideas from the program and the survey data, you will outline an action plan to engage others toward accomplishing your goals when you return home.

Related News

What Young Men Of Color Can Teach Us About The Achievement Gap

THE ACHIEVEMENT HIGH-FIVE: Five Earliest-Learning Interventions for Parents of Infants and Toddlers

GETTING TO EXCELLENCE WITH EQUITY: Faculty Chair, Ron Ferguson Talks About Opportunity, Achievement and Raising the Bar for All Students

FROM HARVARD TO HOLLYBURN: Canadian educators find inspiration and new direction at the Closing the Achievement Gap professional education program.

Program Objectives
  • Understand theoretical and practical frameworks for approaching the challenge of closing racial, ethnic and socioeconomic achievement gaps
  • Examine instructional leadership techniques to improve teacher engagement with students who do not perform to their potential
  • Explore how to mobilize students to effectively improve levels of peer support for achievement among all learners
  • Learn how to effectively involve parents and families in raising student achievement
  • Consider how to engage your community in public discourse about achievement gaps, mapping against an external standard to help push all student groups ahead
2016 Session Topics

Elizabeth City, lecturer on education, HGSE
Using Data to Improve Instruction

Jon Saphier, founder and president, Research for Better Teaching, Inc. 
Instructional Leadership

Karen Mapp, senior lecturer on education, HGSE  
Michele Brooks, former assistant superintendent for family and student engagement, Boston Public Schools
Family and Community Engagement

Ron Ferguson, adjunct lecturer in public policy, Harvard Kennedy School
A multi-dimensional approach to achieving educational excellence with equity

Who Should Attend
  • U.S. school leaders and other educators including superintendents, assistant superintendents, directors of curriculum and instruction, principals, assistant principals, teachers and teacher leaders
  • Teams composed of a school leader—principal or assistant principal—and one or several educators in leadership roles. Teams could also include school administrators; individuals responsible for instructional leadership, supervising student organizations and out-of-school programming; as well as parent and community leaders.
  • Individual educators are also welcome to enroll


Testimonials: What People Are Saying

“I have been impressed with the breadth of the information, the passion of the commitment to the cause, and the courage to have all of the conversations. My sincere appreciation and respect to all involved.” —2012 participant

“I will use what I learned about making content culturally relevant and accessible through strategies I learned this week!” —Sonya Anglin, Elementary Teacher, Lincoln Co. High School, Mount Vernon, KY

Thank you to the entire staff of presenters and organizers for the thoughtful design and execution. I leave more informed, courageous and respectful of the myriad of dynamics that have led to the achievement gap and those that I can influence to help narrow that gap. I am grateful to Ron.”  —Stephanie Joyce, Teacher, Crocker Farm Elementary School, Amherst, MA

“Practical, immediately applicable.” —Jason T. Williams, Assistant/Associate Principal, Northeast High School, Pasadena, MD
Session with Elizabeth City: Using Data to identify Issues and Set Priorities

Faculty Chair

Ronald Ferguson is adjunct lecturer on public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. For much of the past decade, Ferguson's research has focused on racial achievement gaps, appearing in publications by the National Research Council, the Brookings Institution, the U.S. Department of Education and the Educational Research Service. He is the creator and research director of the Tripod Project for School Improvement, the faculty co-chair and director of the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard and a faculty co-chair of the Pathways to Prosperity Initiative.


Enrollment Instructions

Admission to Closing the Achievement Gap is competitive; we regret that we are unable to accommodate all applicants. To maximize the learning experience, the program aims to bring together as diverse a group as possible. Both individuals and teams are welcome to apply. As the program fills quickly, early application is encouraged.


Step One
You will be asked to provide your personal profile and organizational information.

Step Two
You will be asked to respond to the following questions:

  1. Explain how participation in the program will benefit your work and describe one or more significant challenges you would like to explore during the program. (250 word limit)
  2. In what ways do you expect your particular skills, experience and perspective to contribute to group discussions? (250 word limit)


Identify Your Team Coordinator

  • Before beginning the application process, you will need to identify a team coordinator.
  • The coordinator will be the primary point of contact during the application process and preparation for the program.
  • The coordinator does not need to attend the program and will have the opportunity to indicate if they will be attending during the application process.

Application Process

  1. A team application to be completed once by the coordinator.
  2. A team member application to be completed by each member of your team.
  • In order for your team to be considered for review by the admissions committee, each team member will need to complete the team member application. The coordinator will receive a link to the team member application once the team application is complete.
  • Once started, the team application must be completed in a single session. It should take 15–20 minutes to complete.
  • A list of required questions will be provided at the beginning of the team application.
Fees, Hotel Accommodations, and Policies

The comprehensive tuition includes all instructional materials and refreshments. Participants receive a certificate of participation and a letter confirming clock hours of instruction.

Payment or a purchase order must be received within thirty days of program acceptance and prior to the program start. Participants are responsible for their own travel expenses. While a purchase order confirms a reservation, an outstanding balance is maintained until payment is rendered. If funds are unable to be processed within these guidelines, a documented payment plan is to be sent via mail, e-mail, or fax, and received two weeks prior to the program start date.

Please click here for more information on hotel accommodations for on-campus programs.

Please click here for more information on our on-campus and online refund and withdrawal policies. If you have any additional questions or concerns about your ability to participate, please contact our admissions team at or 1-800-545-1849.

The Harvard Graduate School of Education reserves the right to change faculty or cancel programs at its discretion. In the unlikely event of program changes, the school is not responsible for non-refundable travel arrangements or other planning expenses incurred.

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