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Persistent Achievement Gap Harms Oregon’s Economy

Analysis shows nearly $2 billion in economic activity lost over ten years


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  
July 22, 2015  

For more information, contact:  
Valerie Cunningham, 503.552.6754, vcunningham@portlandalliance.com 

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Business Alliance, the Value of Jobs Coalition, and Chalkboard Project today released results of a joint study called, “Economics of the Achievement Gap; Oregon and the Portland Area.” The report looks at the economic impact over time created by the ongoing achievement gap for minority students in Oregon’s public schools.
 
A key finding of the study shows that if the achievement gap for Oregon’s adult population had been eliminated by 2003, the increase in economic activity in the state would have been $1.9 billion higher in 2013. With nearly half of the students in the Portland Public School system alone currently identified as minorities, the achievement gap will have an even greater impact on Oregon’s future economic vitality.
 
“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,” said Sandra McDonough, president and CEO of the Portland Business Alliance. “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.”
“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,” said Sue Hildick, president of Chalkboard Project. “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.”  
 
Highlights of the study, completed with ECONorthwest:
  • 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 found at www.valueofjobs.com