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Closing the achievement gap in the public schools is frequently said to be necessary to help minorities succeed.


But a new report released Wednesday says it would also be good for everyone by boosting the economy. It found eliminating the achievement gap in 2003 would have increased economic activity in the state by $1.9 billion by 2013. The impact would be even greater in the future since nearly half of all Portland Public School students are identified as minorities.

“Not only is education a path out of poverty for many underserved families, but these kids are our future innovators, entrepreneurs and employees; the drivers of regional competitiveness in a global economy. This report shows that closing the achievement gap will benefit not only individuals attaining better education outcomes but also the state as a whole in terms of greater economic vitality,” says Sandra McDonough, president and CEO of the Portland Business Alliance, which sponsored the report along with the Value of Jobs Coalition and the Chalkboard Project.

“In order to close these persistent achievement gaps and prepare all our students for the jobs of the future, all students need access to high-quality, culturally relevant, and engaging learning environments. This means a continued focus on recruiting and retaining the best teachers and leaders, diversifying the educator workforce, and maintaining a laser-like focus on accountability for better results statewide,” says Sue Hildick, president of Chalkboard Project, which advices for the schools.

The study was conducted by the ECONorthwest consulting firm. Highlights include:

• If the achievement gap for Oregon’s adult population had been eliminated by 2003, the increase in economic activity in Oregon would have been $1.9 billion higher in 2013.

• If the achievement gap were eliminated over the next 10 years, Oregon’s economy would be 0.8 percent, or $1.1 billion larger, by 2035 and 3.6 percent or $3.9 billion, larger in 2060.

• Eliminating the achievement gap in 2003 would have led to an increase in the gross state product per capita of $487, bringing the total gross state product per capita up to $54,237. This would have eliminated more than half of the gap between Oregon’s and Washington’s gross state product per capita.

A summary of the report can be read here.

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