Closing the achievement and opportunity gaps

Supporting members who advocate and strive to "close the achievement gap" for culturally, linguistically, and economically diverse students is a key priority of the WEA and NEA. In addition to working to shape policies and secure funds, we believe the learner belongs at the center of the change effort and that we should promote the strengths of students in struggling schools.

You have several options to pursue professional development related to closing the achievement and opportunity gaps. Learn about courses below and search for trainings here.

For more Information, contact Ben Ibale, WEA Human and Civil Rights Coordinator.

Nominate a leader for the WEA HCR Awards.

  • English Language Learners Summer Seminar

    This intensive, three-day course explores how to apply research‐based, classroom-focused language acquisition, culture and equity practices in order to close the achievement gap for all students who are English language learners (ELLs).

    Day 1

    • Explore culture and equity issues
    • Develop an understanding of how our beliefs, values, and behaviors related to culture, language, racial identity, and equity impact our practice with English language learners
    • Explore language acquisition theory and language development

    Day 2

    • Understand the application of language acquisition stages to language development
    • Learn the classroom conditions that allow optimal language learning
    • Bridge theory to practice through examining one’s own classroom conditions

    Day 3

    • Examine critical elements of instructional design to promote English language development
    • Apply theories of second language acquisition to classroom practice
    • Review and develop lesson plans for English language learners that reflect culture, equity and language acquisition best practices
  • Teaching Equity Conference

    Join fellow WEA educators of color and future teachers at this 1-day conference to learn about what equity looks like in today's classroom. A sample of sessions from past conferences is below:

    C.A.R.E. Training: Closing the Achievement Gap

    This session offers strategies for improving the learning experiences of diverse students, especially those who are struggling to achieve at high levels. It focuses on four factors that affect student achievement: Culture, Abilities, Resilience, and Effort (C.A.R.E.). Participants will look at cultural differences by learning about the cultures that students bring to school -- their everyday experiences -- and connect these experiences to what is taught; recognize the abilities students have learned in their homes and communities that do not show up on standardized tests, but can contribute to academic success; cultivate resilience in students to help them persevere in school, despite repeated failure or discouragement they may have experienced in their environment; and find out how students who are difficult to motivate are motivated outside of school and bring those interests inside the schoolhouse where they can be used to direct students toward academics.

    Since Time Immemorial: Tribal Sovereignty in Washington State

    This is a ground-breaking curriculum initiative made possible through federal, state and tribal funding. This project seeks to build lasting educational partnerships between school districts and their local tribes via elementary, middle, and high school curriculum on tribal sovereignty. The curriculum is free and accessible online.

    Guided Language Acquisition Design (GLAD) Training

    Project GLAD is a model of professional development in the area of language acquisition and literacy. The strategies and model promote English language acquisition, academic achievement and cross-cultural skills. Project GLAD was developed and field tested for nine years in the Fountain Valley School District and is based on years of experience with integrated approaches for teaching language. Tied to the Common Core State Standards and State Standards, the model trains educators to provide access to core curriculum using local district guidelines and curriculum.

    Respecting Ethnic and Cultural Heritage (REACH) Instructional Strategies

    Gary Howard pioneered Project REACH at Arlington Middle School in 1980 with the notion that his middle-school students would be better prepared as adults if they had an understanding of many cultures and races. This session is for educators who want to explore and create learning experiences that empower students to honor human diversity. Participants will explore what good teachers know, what they do, and how they embrace culturally responsive teaching.