Orlando has narrowed the gap between low-income students and their better-off peers in recent years better than 90 percent of other U.S. cities surveyed by a new tool called the Education Equality Index (EEI).
The purpose of the index is to take every state in the country, select several of their cities and see how they’re narrowing that gap – making education quality the same for all students. The number of low-income students was measured by participation in a free or reduced lunch program.
In a ranking of the 101 cities for which data is available, Orlando ranked 16th. The gap there narrowed by 21 percent between 2011 and 2014. Florida as a whole was ranked No. 2 out of the entire country.
Orange County Schools Superintendent Barbara Jenkins said the success was a result of hard work from everyone from parents to students to teachers.
“We are honored to be recognized as a school district that is closing the achievement gap,” she is quoted as saying in a press release. “The success of our school district is thanks to the tireless work of educators, endless support from parents, and determination of our students. We look forward to sharing our approach with more schools across the country in hopes that all children can reach their unlimited potential.”
In particular, Engelwood Elementary School was one of the top schools where lower income students had equal education opportunities. In the press release, this is credited to a “robust partnership” with the city by sending teachers from other schools to the nearby Engelwood Community Center, so students don’t lose what they learned over the summer.
The EEI is “proof that equality is possible,” according to Education Cities Founder & CEO Ethan Gray – he said it shows that even the most vulnerable students can still rise up and achieve great things.