Closing the Academic Achievement Gap

David Chapin, Lou Anna K. Simon, Dorinda Carter Andrews, and Clifford Seybert at the All-University Awards Convocation, February 11, 2014.

The 2014 Outreach Scholarship Community Partnership Award honors Dorinda Carter Andrews, Clifford Seybert, and David Chapin for their partnership to close academic achievement gaps in East Lansing Public Schools (ELPS).

The partnership is designed to utilize culturally relevant and responsive interventions for improving student achievement. The Closing the Achievement Gap in ELPS initiative focuses on identifying factors that contribute to African American student underperformance and implementing academic and cultural interventions for student success. The initiative involves significant collaboration among school district leaders, teachers, parent groups, East Lansing Public Schools students, and MSU students (particularly in the Department of Teacher Education and the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities). This extensive collaboration has led to notable personal, institutional, educational, and research contributions to the school district and the larger community.

The partnership has focused on increasing educator awareness of and sensitivity to the role of race and culture in teaching and learning, helping educators make instructional decisions based on academic and cultural data, building leadership capacity around educational equity and cultural competency, and integrating youth voices in effecting positive change in learning spaces.

Carter Andrews has worked with administrators, parent groups, teachers, and students to develop interventions that increase individuals' cultural humility and competency. Over the past five years, she has collaborated with each school's staff to better understand how to make data-driven decisions about meeting the academic and social needs of marginalized youth. Organizational and curricular outcomes of Carter Andrews's leadership with the Achievement Gap project include the establishment of an Achievement Gap Task Force (now in its fourth year), the establishment of a director of educational equity position, a diversity conference at East Lansing High School, the district's membership with the Minority Student Achievement Network, a yearlong professional development course on teaching across cultural differences, and community forums on race and cultural diversity.

Carter Andrews is recognized nationally for her research on race and equity in education. She has partnered with school districts throughout the country to address the academic needs of culturally diverse students. Her scholarly work is published in peer-reviewed education journals and books as well as training manuals and technical reports.

As superintendent and former superintendent of ELPS respectively, Seybert and Chapin are dedicated educators focused on offering meaningful and quality educational experiences to all students, particularly those most disadvantaged by the educational system. Chapin originally invited Carter Andrews to participate in the ELPS strategic planning process. So successful was the collaboration that she and Chapin continued working together in the school system for more than five years—and this work is now continuing with Seybert.

About the MSU Community Engagement Scholarship Award

Each year, the Community Engagement Scholarship Award (formerly the Outreach Scholarship Community Partnership Award) is conferred on one MSU researcher for exemplary engaged scholarship with a community partner. The researcher and partner are recognized at the University's annual Awards Convocation in February, where each receives a stipend of $1,500.

The award-winning partnership also represents MSU in the competition for the regional Engagement Scholarship W. K. Kellogg Foundation Engagement Award and the national C. Peter Magrath University/Community Engagement Award. These are among the most prestigious recognitions of exemplary engaged scholarship in the United States, and also provide cash prizes, including $20,000 for the top national award.

  • Written by Carla Hills, University Outreach and Engagement

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