Ronald Ferguson Photo

Ronald Ferguson

Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy


This course develops a "big picture" understanding of how policymakers, philanthropists, and civic entities can work in concert with schools, families, and out-of-school-time organizations in pursuit of excellence with equity for children and youth. As the title suggests, the course is concerned with strategies and policies for narrowing racial achievement gaps. But narrowing gaps is not enough. Excellence matters too. Therefore, the focus of the course is academic excellence with equity. The value orientation of the course is toward high-quality developmental outcomes for youth of all racial, ethnic, and social class backgrounds, with "group-proportional equality" (race fades as a predictor) and widespread excellence. With an emphasis on students of color and youth from less advantaged families, the course explores several policy and strategic responses to achievement disparity: identify and work to remove key structural barriers to educational equity; promote a civic ethos of collective responsibility for excellence with equity goals; design more effective policies and practices to improve the quality of teaching; provide consistently high-quality out-of-school-time learning opportunities; support families with ideas and practices for parenting children more effectively; engage youth to reshape their culture of achievement to align with their most positive values; mobilize the business community to support youth, including integrated work and learning; and help build and promote a national social and political movement for excellence with equity. The course concerns theories, evidence, designs, methods, and mechanisms associated with these major prescriptions for raising achievement and closing gaps.

Also offered by the Graduate School of Education as A-108.