Closing the Achievement Gap Summer Institute: Strategies for Excellence in Equity


Jul 1, 2019


Harvard Graduate School of Education
Cambridge, MA


Jon Saphier

Dr. Saphier has served on the Closing the Achievement Gap Summer Institute faculty for several years and has again been invited to speak at this excellent event. His focus on high expertise teaching, which embraces high expectations, providing specific strategies and skills to help ALL students, directly fits with the goals of the Summer Institute.


This Institute, hosted by Dr. Ronald Ferguson, the Achievement Gap Initiative (AGI) Director, focuses on contemporary frameworks used to understand instructional quality, student engagement, youth development, parenting and leadership in racially diverse communities. Challenges of responding effectively to racial, ethnic and socio-economic differences within school communities will receive special attention. The program features research findings from the Tripod Project for School Improvement, which surveys students and teachers around the nation in an effort to understand how they experience teaching and learning. These findings have important implications for leadership in diverse schools and classrooms and directly relate to RBT’s work with teachers and leaders in districts across the country.

As background Dr. Ferguson’s research and consulting on racial achievement gaps led him to create the Tripod Project for School Improvement in 2001. Teacher content knowledge, effective pedagogy, and strong teacher-student relationships, are the three legs of the Tripod. Many school districts around the nation are now using Tripod or other student surveys in their school improvement and teaching evaluation systems. In 2004, as a result of his effectiveness at bridging research and practice, Dr. Ferguson was asked to lead a university-wide seminar on achievement gaps which subsequently resulted in the formation in 2005 of the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard University. RBT and Dr. Saphier have a long-standing relationship with Dr. Ferguson due to close alignment of RBT’s mission with the goals of the AGI around cultural proficiency and high expertise teaching. RBT’s work was highlighted in a number of stories about public high schools’ achievements featured in the “How High Schools Become Exemplary” 2009 AGI conference report.