27 Feb What’s It Going to Take? Closing Orange County’s Achievement Gap
Orange County K – 12 schools serve over 500,000 students, nearly half of whom live below the poverty line and more than 130,000 who are English language learners. These are a startling statistics when you consider the impact of socio-economic and language barriers on students’ academic success. Research shows that these factors drive an achievement gap which begins even before students walk through the door in Kindergarten. With so many students at risk of poor academic performance, a focus on early child school readiness must be taken seriously.
This is not a problem unique to Orange County. Major cities across the United States have been grappling with the achievement gap issue. By looking at successful programs around the nation, we see a similar pattern: Engage a child in the education process as soon as possible, and then surround them with a community of peers who are academically-focused and adults who are supportive and understand what it takes to achieve success.
In order to strengthen early child education, we must take a community-wide approach. Orange County schools rely greatly on community agencies that are working hard to help them close this gap. With the culturally diverse population in our County, we know that by developing good language skills early on, children dramatically improve their chance of success throughout their K – 12 education.
The Orange County Community Foundation has identified solid early child education programs and after school programs rich with language development. These organizations are delivering promising strategies to make a difference in the lives of our county’s children. I cannot say it enough – early education and after school programs are crucial. The task is great, but by integrating resources for children from both the public sector and private sector, we have the opportunity to close the gap and ensure that every student who takes their first step through our school doors is ready for success.
I encourage you to review the information that the ConnectOC report reveals on education . Our hope is that you will understand the deep need that exists and find ways in which you can support local efforts.