The Johns Hopkins Gazette: February 19, 2001
February 19, 2001
VOL. 30, NO. 22


Success For All is Closing the Achievement Gap in Texas Schools

By Leslie Rice Masterman
Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

A recent study of data from the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills shows that Success For All schools are substantially closing the gap in reading performance between themselves and the far less impoverished schools in the rest of the state. Gains were even more pronounced for African-American and Hispanic students at Success For All schools. The achievement gap between these students and white students closed significantly more than did the gap between white students and African-American and Hispanic students in other Texas schools.

Success For All is a comprehensive reform model for elementary schools with a high population of low-income students. Begun by Johns Hopkins researchers Robert Slavin and Nancy Madden in 1987 in one inner-city Baltimore school, Success For All is now in more than 1,800 schools in 49 states and five other countries. There are currently about 1 million children in schools that have implemented Success For All, now run by an eponymous nonprofit foundation.

Researchers for Success For All used Texas data available on the Internet. Comparing reading performance improvement statewide and at Success For All schools, they found that gains increased with the number of years that the schools implemented the SFA program. The percentage of students who passed the TAAS in those schools was up 18.8 percent compared with gains of 11.1 percent throughout the rest of the state.

The researchers found that in 1984 the TAAS passing rates for African-American students was 25.6 percent behind the passing rate for white students at schools that adopted Success For All that year; by 1998, the African-American students at SFA schools were only 10.6 percentage points behind white students. At non-SFA schools, African-American students had started slightly closer to their white counterparts in 1994 but by 1998 remained on average 13.7 percent behind their white classmates.

In the same Success For All schools, the percentage of Hispanic students--the largest ethnic group in Success For All's Texas schools--that passed in 1994 was 17.4 points behind white students in the rest of the state; by 1998, they were only 6.9 percentage points behind. Hispanic students in non-SFA schools remained 9.5 percent behind white students. These figures represent both Spanish dominant- and English dominant-speaking children of Hispanic origin. To view the entire report, go to