MCPS students march to close the achievement gap


Students held a march April 27 to protest the growing achievement gap. Leaders viewed the march as a success and look to MCPS for support.

By Alissa Li, Observations Editor

A sea of black and purple t-shirts flooded the streets of Rockville April 27, each shirt branded with the words “United Are We.” Students marched through the streets, raising awareness of the achievement gap and a program to combat it.

The Minority Scholars Program (MSP) organized this march to close the growing academic achievement gap, a difference in academics achievements due to different students’ socioeconomic backgrounds, between black and Hispanic students and their Caucasian and Asian peers.

“The March to Close the Gap was an unbelievable success,” one of the MSP’s founding members and Walter Johnson High School teacher Michael Williams said. “The event was inspiration, fun and informative. It definitely accomplished our goals of raising awareness, highlighting the successes of the MSP and garnering support from the community stakeholders.”

The MSP’s success, however, does not lie in the entire program itself. It relies on the individual schools within the MSP, according to Williams. Currently, there are 10 MSP chapters in Montgomery County, and the program continues to expand through MCPS.

“Our real work at closing the gap is in the individual schools within the MSP,” Williams said. “Our student leaders organize college trips, speakers, do tutoring in the high school and feeder middle schools, encourage others to take high-level courses and actively get involved in student leadership.”

As MCPS schools and its students begin to rally for closing the gap, MCPS headquarters is also continuing its work to solve the problem of the achievement gap.

“There is much work to be done, but our investments continue our multi-year plan to increase student achievement for every single student and make sure they are prepared to thrive in their future,” MCPS communication specialist Gboyinde Onijala. “The resources we have asked for in the FY ‘15 budget will enable us to continue our work to narrow and ultimately close the achievement gap and to create schools that provide the best possible education for every child.”

With the increasing awareness of the achievement gap, MCPS and its community are both working to close the gap for good.

“Closing the gap positively changes the culture,” Williams. “It brings us closer to a nation in which all children are given full opportunity and access to succeed.”