Closing the Nashville Achievement Gap

In Nashville, there is a wide and growing achievement gap between children from low-income families and their more privileged peers. This gap, which refers to the disparity in performance between groups of students, shows up in grades, standardized test scores, drop-out rates, course selection, college completion rates, and other measures of success. The gap in Nashville has grown by 11% in recent years, making our achievement gap larger than 75% of other major American cities. Only one in ten children from low-income Nashville families attend a school that is actively closing that gap.

We believe this is unacceptable, and we are working to help ALL children in Nashville achieve at high levels and reach for success in the future. Our goal is to see 75% of 3rd graders proficient in reading by 2025.


Early Education

Only 11% of Nashville's high school graduates are considered "college ready" according to ACT benchmark tests. While college can seem like something in the distant future for parents of young children, participation in early education programs like pre-K and Head Start lays the foundation for success and has a tremendous impact on what future opportunities will be available to them, including college. Here are the facts:

  • By 3 years of age, there is a 30 million word gap between children from the wealthiest and poorest families.
  • Children from low-income families who participate in high-quality early education are 30% more likely to graduate from high school and twice as likely to go to college.

What can you do?



Nearly two-thirds of Nashville's fourth graders are not reading on grade level, which has a huge impact on their ability to progress and achieve in future grade levels. Not being able to read at their grade level is a huge setback for children, and can keep them from being college and career ready.

We must address the ugly truth: 

  • Children who are not reading at a proficient level by fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school before graduating.
We have work to do in Nashville, because the evidence of the achievement gap is clear. These are the statistics for MNPS 4th grade students who are "proficient" or "advanced" in Reading/Language Arts:
  • 26% of Hispanic
  • 28% or Black
  • 50% of Asian
  • 53% of White
  • 28% of Economically Disadvantaged

What can you do?

Every child, with the proper support, can become a strong reader. Each of us has a role to play in helping to close the reading proficiency gap in our homes and in our communities.



2015 Education Report Card | Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce

Early Childhood Education Enrollment | Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools

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