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Pilot program at Grand Rapids area schools aims to close achievement gap

May 11, 2015

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A new pilot program in Grand Rapids will try to raise student achievement at high-poverty schools.

Education Trust-Midwest announced Monday it's launching a program to provide greater support and coaching to teachers. Education Trust-Midwest is a nonpartisan education research organization based in Royal Oak.

“The more we can improve the quality of teaching and leadership that’s going on in these buildings, the greater the impact we’re going to have on closing that achievement gap,” Chad Tolson, the program’s director said.

Tolson says work began at two elementary schools earlier this year in the Grand Rapids suburb of Wyoming. They’ll expand to five schools next fall.

He says they’re working with teachers who have proven skills in the classroom.

“We feel like investing in teachers, helping them to improve, supporting them, can also help retain these great teachers or good teachers in districts, and therefore can help that whole equity piece including the achievement gap,” he said.

Tolson says they believe better leadership will translate into better performance for students who struggle in school. 

The Steelcase Foundation will pay $2 million over the next four years to cover the program’s cost.