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Minneapolis mulls 2 teachers per classroom in achievement gap fight

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Minneapolis is considering the dramatic – and expensive – step of putting two teachers in certain classrooms as part of its ongoing battle with a persistent "achievement gap", the Star Tribune reports.

The Minneapolis School Board was scheduled on Tuesday night to receive a new report that says minority student test scores continue to lag behind those of their white peers, the newspaper notes. The panel has not yet approved the two-teacher proposal, and the cost has not been defined (the Star Tribune notes that the median cost of a teacher, including benefits, is $87,000). But the district is likely to try the strategy this school year in a half-dozen struggling schools, the newspaper reports.

The city is not alone in its long struggle to close the achievement gap. Nationwide, the gap between black and white students, as well as between Hispanic and white students, has shown a few improvements in some areas over the years, but not budged in others.

Statewide, new Minnesota test score data released last week showed some improvements, but a gap has widened for some at the eighth-grade level.

More attention is being paid to the issue as high-profile leaders scramble for solutions. Outgoing Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak recently accepted a job as the new executive director of Generation Next, a nonprofit organization focused on closing the educational achievement gap in schools. He told MinnPost that one of his biggest regrets as mayor was not being more involved in school issues.

Incoming Mayor Betsy Hodges has said that closing the achievement gap is among her very top priorities, even though schools issues do not fall under direct control of the mayor. She has touted what she call a "Cradle-to-K" education initiative.

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