Toward Excellence with Equity

Toward Excellence with Equity An Emerging Vision for Closing the Achievement Gap

Ronald F. Ferguson
paper, 383 Pages
Pub. Date: December 2007
ISBN-13: 978-1-891792-78-6
Price: $33.00

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For the past 15 years, economist Ronald Ferguson has investigated the myriad factors that combine to create racial disparities in academic performance. This volume brings together Ferguson’s most important papers and most recent thinking on these issues. In language accessible and useful to education practitioners, Ferguson sets forth a wide-ranging and compelling vision for closing the achievement gap.


This book issues an urgent call to action to anyone concerned about the lagging success rates among minority children in American schools and the repercussions for our country’s future. Ronald Ferguson not only surveys the bleak terrain surrounding the achievement gap, but provides all of us with a road map to reach higher ground. — Geoffrey Canada, President and CEO, Harlem Children’s Zone

Toward Excellence with Equity is an important book written by one of the nation’s foremost experts on education and economic development. Ronald Ferguson’s pioneering work on black/white disparities in student skill levels and achievement-test scores has significant public policy implications. This book is a must-read for anyone concerned about narrowing the racial gap in educational attainment and earnings. — William Julius Wilson, Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor, Harvard University

This book combines high-quality research, judicious insights, brilliant speculation, and common sense to set forth strategies to reduce the achievement gap dramatically. It is particularly compelling in calling for a comprehensive social movement that will not only transform schools but establish strong communities, effective parenting, and powerful peer cultures. — Henry M. Levin, William H. Kilpatrick Professor of Economics and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University

Ferguson conducts an authoritative review to show that disparities in academic performance can be closed by strong parental engagement and by parents working in partnership with schools around a shared vision of success for their children. The reality is that educators can’t do it alone. This highly intelligent book gives policymakers, educators, and parents essential tools for closing achievement gaps between high-performing and low-performing schools. — Susan Zelman, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Ohio Department of Education

Toward Excellence with Equity is essential reading for any businessperson who cares about the well-being of children and the future quality of the American workforce. — Bridgette Heller, Chairman of the Executive Leadership Council and Global President of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby, Kids, and Wound-Care Division

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About the Author

Ronald F. Ferguson is a lecturer in public policy and senior research associate at the Wiener Center for Social Policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he has taught since 1983. In addition, he has recently joined the faculty at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. His research publications cover issues in education policy, youth development programming, community development, economic consequences of skill disparities, and state and local economic development. Much of his research since the mid-1990s has focused on racial achievement gaps, appearing in publications of the National Research Council, the Brookings Institution, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Educational Research Service, and in various other books and journals. Ferguson participates in a variety of local, state, and national consulting and policy advisory activities, including with state and local school districts, on closing achievement gaps. He is the founder of the Tripod Project for school improvement and the faculty cochair and director of the Achievement Gap Initiative (AGI) at Harvard. The AGI is a university-wide initiative to help close the nation’s achievement gaps by supporting new research and connecting research to policy and practice. Ferguson attended public schools in Cleveland, Ohio, later earning an undergraduate degree from Cornell University and a PhD from MIT, both in economics. He lives with his sons, Daniel and Darren, a nephew, Marcus, and his wife, Helen Mont-Ferguson, to whom he has been happily married for twenty-nine years.

Table of Contents (PDF)

Introduction (PDF)

Harvard Education Letter Interview with Ronald Ferguson

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