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Office of Vice President and
Chief of Staff
Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd S.
Fort Myers, FL. 33965-6565

Phone: (239) 590-1006
Fax:     (239) 590-1066

Press Release


Public, Media Invited to Attend Public Forum to Discuss 'Academic Achievement Gap' in Southwest Florida K-12 Schools

FORT MYERS, FL - The College of Education at Florida Gulf Coast University invites the public and media to attend the public forum "Academic Achievement Gap," 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Friday, April 7 in the Whitaker Hall Sprint Room to discuss issues pertaining to disparate educational success among students of race and class in Southwest Florida K-12 classrooms.

FGCU has been collaborating with school districts to help administrators and teachers close the academic achievement gap that is occurring locally. The FGCU forum is designed to involve and inform parents and constituents about the need to address learning differences among students of race, students with special needs, and children of migrant workers.

The United States Department of Education says closing the achievement gap between high and low-performing students, especially between minority and nonminority students, and between disadvantaged students and more advantaged peers, is one way to carry out the purpose of ensuring that all students have a fair, equal and significant opportunity to obtain a quality education and reach proficiency on challenging state academic achievement standards and academic assessments.

Florida schools have been mandated by the state since 2002 to meet Adequate Yearly Progress as a provision of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The Florida Department of Education, which provides a report on each district and school at, shows many schools are narrowing the gap but some are still failing to meet the requirement.

"Many children will likely be left behind unless there are some critical steps taken to address this calamity," associate professor of Education Patrick Davis said. "If children cannot or do not compete academically with their peers, their chances of being admitted to higher educational institutions is sorely diminished."

Davis said research shows adults with low levels of education have difficulty finding meaningful or any employment, and demonstrates a strong correlation between unemployment and crime.

During the forum, President William C. Merwin and dean of the College of Education Marci Greene give opening remarks followed by keynote speaker Brenda Townsend and breakout sessions.

Townsend is a professor in the Department of Special Education at the University of South Florida and director of the USF CAROUSEL Center, a hub dedicated to improving the outcomes for urban children and families through community outreach, teacher education preparation and supporting action research.

Registration begins at 2:30 p.m. An hors d'oeuvres reception is at 7 p.m. Spanish and English interpreting is provided. Reservations are required by Monday, April 3. Participants should RSVP to (239) 590-7799. Seating is limited.

For more information, media representatives should contact dean of the College of Education Marci Greene at (239) 590-7781 or

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